- Jason Davis

The combined Great Britain team planned for the London Summer Olympics soccer tournament next year is a matter of some controversy. With traditionally independent soccer nations like Wales, Scotland, and North Ireland concerned that they'll lose their identities in the process, the FAs of those nations have warned any of their players from accepting an invitation by the Great Britain Olympic committee to play for the combined side. There's a bit of question around just how many non-English players would even make the cut, giving the whole thing a much-ado-about-nothing feel, but there is one very special winger almost certain to face a very difficult decision: Gareth Bale.

Brad Friedel thinks Bale should defy the ban, along any other player like him who might get a call for Team GB (if another such player exists).

“I grew up in the US where the Olympics is considered the pinnacle of all sports so putting on the US shirt in 1992 and 2000 was very different to the World Cups I played in.

“For players such as Gareth Bale to miss out on that experience would be terrible. It’s not just the actual matches it’s the entire learning experience. You get to be around all the other sportsmen and women and for players to miss out on it in Great Britain would be a travesty.”

What about the risk that the national sides would follow through on their threat to never call Bale in again?

“I’d advise them to play. There might be a threat not top pick them in future but I would hope there would too much pressure to prevent that.

“Playing at the Olympic Games is an experience they shouldn’t miss.”

In other words, too bad for you Wales. You've only got one Gareth Bale. Are you really going to never call him up for the national side again just because he took the once in a lifetime opportunity to play in the Olympics?

Freidel related his own experience of sitting across a table from Jim Courier and Boris Becker when he represented the United States in the Olympics. The chance to meet greats like Courier and Becker might be enough to convince Bale to turn his back on the Welsh FA's wishes if he there was any chance he knew who they were and could relate them to modern day athletes. Brad Friedel is really old.

Friedel's player page at the Soccer Times website for the 2000 Olympic team.

In a related story, there's no truth to the rumor that a man who resembled James Collins in a hypnotic trance was seen slashing Brad Friedel's tires at the American goalkeeper's Birmingham-area home.

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