Sébastien Jacques André Frey (born 18 March 1980) is a French former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. His club career began in France with Cannes in 1997, but later went on to spend most of his career in the Italian Serie A, playing for Inter Milan, Hellas Verona, Parma, Fiorentina, and Genoa; he ended his career in 2015, after two seasons with Turkish side Bursaspor. At international level, he represented the France national football team on two occasions between 2007 and 2008 and was an unused member of the squad that took part at UEFA Euro 2008.
Frey with Bursaspor in 2014
|Full name||Sébastien Jacques André Frey|
|Date of birth||18 March 1980|
|Place of birth||Thonon-les-Bains, France|
|Height||1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|1999–2000||→ Hellas Verona (loan)||30||(0)|
|2005–2006||→ Fiorentina (loan)||18||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Born in Thonon-les-Bains, Frey began his career with French side AS Cannes in 1997, at the age of 17. On 20 September 1997, he made his professional league debut, playing as a starter in a 1–1 home draw against Rennes. At the end of the 1997–98 season, Frey made 24 league appearances and took Grégory Wimbée's starting goalkeeping spot in the first team.
Following two promising seasons at Cannes, Frey began to attract attention from abroad, most noticeably from Inter Milan whom had been notified of his exceptional talents by former keeper Walter Zenga and Serie A rivals Juventus. Eventually, he opted to join Inter. At Inter in earlier season, he was the third goalkeeper behind Andrea Mazzantini and Gianluca Pagliuca until Mazzantini was sold to Perugia, making Frey as second choice goalkeeper. On 21 March 1999, Frey finally made his debut for the club against Genoa. Frey also made an appearance against Sampdoria when he was put on instead of Pagliuca at 70 minutes on the score (and final) 4–0. He ended the season with a total of seven league appearances for Nerazzurri.
Loan to Verona and return to Inter Milan
In the summer transfer window of 1999, Frey moved on loan to Verona, where he played thirty league appearances and helped the team in order to avoid relegation.
The following year, he returned from loan to play for Inter, as the club sold Angelo Peruzzi for cash and Marco Ballotta. At Inter, Frey was recalled in view of his performance with Verona and Inter, and in the 2000–01 season, he became the youngest goalie in the Lombard team's history, and the first foreigner to move from Inter to this post. He also participated in the preliminary round of the Champions League. His exemplary behavior, his maturity and dedication to the club propel him on rare occasions to be the team captain. However, the team played below expectations, and the club decided to make several changes to the squad; after the arrival of Francesco Toldo from Fiorentina, Frey was placed on the transfer list.
Following Toldo's transfer to Inter, Frey was forced to find a new club. He was transferred to Parma in the summer of 2001, for 8 billion lire cash plus Sérgio Conceição (Conceição was tagged for 32 billion lire, Inter's official site claimed the cash was 10 billion lire), or 40 billion lire with whom he won the 2001–02 Coppa Italia. Frey was the replacement for Gianluigi Buffon who was sold to Juventus for a transfer fee of 100 billion lire in the same window. The transfer fee was the world-record goalkeeper's transfer fee at that time. It was a difficult task for Frey to replace Buffon.
His experience in Parma was positive and provided ample opportunity for Frey to demonstrate his talent and justify the trust placed in him by the club. He became a key element of the squad and regularly played in the UEFA Cup. Frey won the 2001–02 edition of the Coppa Italia with Parma, leading the club to win the title for the third time since 1992; however, Frey never played in the tournament with Cláudio Taffarel preferred for the final. In the 2002 Supercoppa Italiana, however, Frey started in goal against Juventus, but could not help his team to avoid losing 2–1 to the league champions.
In June 2005, Parma avoided relegation to Serie B against Bologna, thanks to Frey and his outstanding performance. Despite his attachment to the club, an economic concern of the latter to balance its budget meant Frey had to be sold. Frey joined Fiorentina for the 2005–06 season, after four seasons with Parma, on the a loan with an option to be.
Frey joined Fiorentina on loan for the 2005–06 campaign, and signed a permanent deal with the club for €6 million (€5.6M went to Parma) at the end of the year following a glittering season where he formed the backbone of the team along with Cristian Brocchi, Stefano Fiore, and Luca Toni. After a positive first half of the season for him and his team, on 10 January 2006, during a match in the Coppa Italia against Juventus, he received a blow after a conflict with Marcelo Zalayeta.
Due to the clash, Frey received blunt trauma to the tibia, which ruled him out of the starting line-up for several months, forcing the club's sporting director Pantaleo Corvino to hire a replacement, which turned out to be Romanian keeper Bogdan Lobonț.
On 15 May 2006, the Florentine officials announced the outright purchase of Frey, buying him for an amount equal to €6 million. In the new season Frey regained his starting spot in goal, after an initial physiological problems due to long stop regains fitness.
On 13 December 2007, Frey suffered a meniscus injury during training, and underwent knee surgery the next day. He returned for Fiorentina's 2–1 victory over Parma on 13 January 2008, after being sidelined for one month, and his outstanding play was rewarded with a contract extension. Fiorentina reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup that season.
In the 2008–09 Serie A season, Frey conceded less than a goal per game, conceding only thirty-one goals in thirty-eight matches.
On 2 November 2010, Frey injured his knee during training, suffering an Anterior cruciate ligament injury, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
In 2011, Frey joined Genoa on a five-year deal on a free transfer after falling out of favour with Fiorentina and being replaced by the newly signed Artur Boruc, who had joined the club from Celtic the previous season. The move turned out to be a failure as Genoa was moving backwards and was ever present in the relegation zone. Frey left after 2 years and was replaced by Mattia Perin. Before joining Genoa, Frey revealed talks with French spenders PSG during the summer transfer window, but the capital side eventually acquired Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu instead. Frey also revealed that German side Bayern Munich was keen to sign him in the past.
On 15 July 2013, Frey joined Turkish club Bursaspor for an undisclosed fee. After he failed to make an appearance during 2014–15 season, his contract was mutually terminated on 9 July 2015, and Frey subsequently retired from professional football. He confirmed his farewell from the club with an Instagram message on 15 July 2015, stating his gratefulness for his spell at club.
Frey received his first call-up for France for a match against Poland in November 2004, but did not make an appearance. He earned his first cap in France's final UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier against Ukraine on 21 November 2007. The match ended in a 2–2 draw after he erred on Andriy Shevchenko's equalising goal. He was a member of France's Euro 2008 finals squad. On 20 August 2008, after being continually overlooked by manager Raymond Domenech, despite his excellent form for Fiorentina, and the constant calls for his selection by the French media, Frey announced his retirement from international football at the age of just 28.
Style of play
Known for his leadership, composure, mentality, strength of character, personality, and consistency, Frey was regarded as one of the best Serie A goalkeepers of his generation throughout his career. A dynamic and agile keeper, who was highly regarded for his acrobatic shot-stopping and aerial ability, he was known in particular for his reactions and his athleticism in goal, as well as his positional sense, speed and ability to rush out in one on one situations, although he was less effective at coming off his line to claim crosses, and performed better between the posts; a former outfield player in his youth, in addition to his goalkeeping abilities, Frey also possessed reliable ball skills and distribution with his feet.
Frey's grandfather, André, was a French international footballer, and his father, Raymond, was also a professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. His younger brother, Nicolas, currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Serie A team Chievo. Frey is a Buddhist (Soka Gakkai), and credited former Fiorentina legend Roberto Baggio as one of his spiritual mentors.
|France||League||Coupe de France||Europe||Total|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Total|
|1998–99||Inter Milan||Serie A||7||0||2||0||0||0||9||0|
|1999–2000||Hellas Verona||Serie A||30||0||1||0||-||31||0|
|2000–01||Inter Milan||Serie A||28||0||0||0||10||0||38||0|
|France national team|
- Guerin d'Oro: 2000
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- "Forza Italia: Frey hopes to get nod". The World Game. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
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- "FREY, Non vedo l'ora di tornare a giocare". Firenze Viola (in Italian). 3 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- Sébastien Frey at National-Football-Teams.com
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- "Italy - Footballer of the Year". RSSSF. Retrieved 6 February 2015.