SoccerBible: Stef Frei #AgainstAO Q&A
Oct 25, 2018
With a confident game-changing attitude to protection on the pitch, Storelli represent a unique state of mind. For the launch of their latest 'Against All Odds' campaign they catch up with Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, a man who has come back from 2 years out with injury to become an MLS All Star and Play-Off regular.
Stefan, tell us in detail about your taping process and how it psyches you up for the game and helps you feel locked in...
For a goalkeeper, finger injuries are just part of the game. I think I’ve dislocated or broken pretty much every finger and it’s not fun. It’s something you definitely want to avoid. So, a few years back I did some research online and found some good videos of UFC fighters on how they tape their fingers.
I wanted to see if there were ways tape my fingers a bit smarter and I was able to find some valuable insight on how to make sure I could bend my fingers in the ways I needed them to and not ways that would cause injuries. As a player, it is about doing everything we can to minimize any injuries and my taping technique has helped provide a little more protection.
The moment in your career where you beat the odds stacked against you?
One of the toughest moments for me was certainly my leg injury in 2012 where it took me over a year to get back. Physically, I did everything I could to get back quicker, faster, stronger.
Mentally though, was a difficult challenge to overcome. So, I needed some help from people from the outside. And even though it took quite a while and there was some doubt along the way, I made it through and was able to find myself in a new situation with the Seattle Sounders. They gave me confidence, allowed me to grow, and really helped fight my way of that dark place.
How do you generate such energy consistently throughout the season? Has this always been part of your game?
I think most professional athletes are competitors. You know when the stakes are high and you are competing at that kind of level, that energy is there. You don’t want to lose. You want to do everything you can to win.
As a goalkeeper, sometimes, we can organize a little bit, we can maybe prevent mistakes, and so there’s a sense of urgency that’s needed. It’s difficult to convey that sense of urgency by being mild-mannered or with a mild tone. So, you really have to wake up your teammates and show them that the bells are ringing. We need to make sure we can snuff things out before it starts into something serious.
So, I think the energy is there. Most players probably have that. And for me, that’s just a natural thing. It’s funny because, for most people that see me and meet me off the pitch, they say I’m pretty soft-spoken, quiet and an introvert. But on the pitch, it’s a different story. But like I said, that’s just part of being a professional athlete.
How valuable is your personality, competitive spirit and style for Seattle- throughout the season?
I think at this point in my career, I would say I’m definitely considered a veteran. I’ve seen a lot of things and you know, I try to stay even keel as much as possible. Again, obviously when the situation calls for a bit of urgency and energy, then I will convey that. But for the most part, you have to stay even keel.
There will be ups and downs throughout the season and I try and make sure I can instill a sense of calmness amongst a team when we’re struggling a little bit. At the same time, when things are going well and we are winning, we try to enjoy it, but again, try not to get too excited, because it’s a long season.
Tell us more about your tattoos. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love all my tattoos – some of the are very personal and others are just art pieces. For me as an artist, I see my body as an empty canvas, and huge opportunity for some good artists and put their marks on it, obviously with some direction from me. But for the most part, my tattoo inspiration is just getting pieces that are very dear to me, or something that I really like or enjoy.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you were rising through the youth ranks?
I think I was very fortunate growing up. You know, I had lots of good people around me that showed me the way, and I was able to just have fun playing the game. For me, it was fun just to show up and do what people told me to do. I had key coaches and my parents that pushed me and showed me what to do both on and off the pitch to become the professional I am today.
My piece of advice to today’s youth who are looking to become professional athletes, attention to detail. It’s massive. You have to do everything you can on and off the pitch. Pay attention to those details – don’t just go through the motions. Whether that means taking every simple part of a very complex technique, really dissect the difficult things into smaller things in order to focus on them and improve as a player. Then, you can piece it back together, one—by—one and make it something complex. So, for a 10-step process, if you had to focus on 10 individual things to really come to perfect technique, it will all be worth it in the end.
So, attention to detail is everything. On and off the pitch. That’s something I would definitely pass on to today’s youth that’s aspiring to become a professional athlete.