Benjamin Siegrist reveals his debt to Brad Friedel as yoga sessions underpinned his journey to Celtic Park
Over the course of a career path which has taken him from Switzerland to Celtic Park, with stops in Birmingham, Liechtenstein and Tayside along the way, Benjamin Siegrist has learned to appreciate that a healthy mind is just as important as physical fitness for a goalkeeper.
So as he prepares for the challenge of nailing down a first team place with the Scottish champions, the 30-year-old remains grateful for the advice he received in his formative years from Brad Friedel.
It was the former American international goalkeeper who took Siegrist under his wing at Aston Villa, introducing him to the benefits of yoga. As Siegrist recalls, it wasn’t so much a recommendation on Friedel’s part as an insistence. Given that Friedel extended his top flight playing career to the age of 43, Siegrist has no doubts about the wisdom of adopting a yoga regime which he continues to follow to this day.
“The first guy I met when I arrived at Villa as a teenager was Brad Friedel and what a gentleman he was,” said Siegrist. “He taught me how to do yoga, which was interesting.
“It was definitely not a suggestion. It was ‘We are doing yoga!’ It was more that it was a new thing and I was willing to try it. If Brad Friedel does it, then it is definitely good enough for me and other keepers have kept it going. It is good exercise but it is also very supportive of your training regimen.
“I was lucky we had yoga teachers early in my career. It is more of a goalkeeping thing, I think, because we tend to be a little bit bigger. Our job needs us to be flexible but generate force at the same time.
"Loads of goalkeeping stretching is yoga poses anyway but Brad really got me into it. I don’t do it as much now but it is still part of my training routine.
“I have really enjoyed doing it, although I have not really been doing it in the sense of meditation. I do like to read a lot of books on mental health, though, on other athletes on how they cope with stuff. I have been with a mental coach who is a sports psychologist. Those are all things that can help for sure.”
As he anticipates the possibility of Champions League football with Celtic after his move from Dundee United, Siegrist can reflect happily on the route he took to get there which included loans at the likes of Solihull Moors and a two-year stint with Vaduz in Liechtenstein.
“It is part of how I got here and what made me who I am,” he said. “A football journey is never going to be straight, it is always going to have ups and downs. I would not change it for the world. It has led me to here so I must have done some things right.
"Vaduz gave me the chance to play in European ties for the first time and then the opportunity to join Dundee United came along. I wanted to make a go of it and make the number one spot my own. I had four successful years there and now I am at the best club in Scotland.”
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