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10 interesting things to note about Tim Howard

MLS 2019: Tim Howard turns 40; final season musings

March 6, 2019 By Michelle Bonsu
The iconic American shot-stopper celebrates his 40th birthday today, and it's also set to be his final season in MLS. Live Soccer TV takes a look at ten curious stats and facts concerning one of the top talents to grace the game.

The 2019 MLS season has already begun, and certainly if the last installment was any indication, this current edition will surely not disappoint.

However, the current campaign is especially notable as it will be the last time fans will get to see an iconic player take to the pitch. Tim Howard, who has long been a bastion of American football both domestically and abroad, announced earlier this year that this season will be his last, and the Colorado Rapids skipper will be naturally hoping to sign off on a high note.

Today also happens to be his 40th birthday, and so in honor of an American legend, we have compiled a list of ten interesting facts and stats surrounding his glittering career - both on and off the pitch.

1. He could have featured for Hungary

Yes, that's right. Howard has dual American and Hungarian citizenship. His mother, Esther Fekete, is a native of Hungary, and raised him as a single mother after his father, American-born Matthew Howard, left the family when Tim was a small child. As a result, Howard, who was born in North Brunswick, New Jersey, on March 6, 1979, has dual nationality, and instead of playing for the Stars and Stripes, could have potentially played his international football for the Eastern European nation.

Fortunately for American fans, he didn't, though!

2. He is part of a very elite club of shot-stoppers

In January 2012, while featuring for Everton, Howard scored his first - and only to date - professional goal. No, this wasn't via penalty. Nor was it by charging up and heading in off a corner in a last ditch attempt to level the scores. Rather, this goal was scored from inside his own half, lobbing the ball over opposing goalkeeper Adam Bogdan. The wind did play a factor, but despite the certain joy at netting a goal, Howard refused to celebrate out of respect for his Hungarian opponent.

The goal came on his 250th appearance for Everton, and makes him only the fourth shot-stopper to net in a Premier League game since the inception of the league in 1992.

3. He is the first American in Premier League history to lift this cup

In 2003, Howard signed with Manchester United for a reported fee of $4 million after impressing with the-then MetroStars (now known as the New York Red Bulls). During his time at Old Trafford, he was part of the team that won the 2004 FA Cup, and the first American to achieve this since the Premier League was born in 1992.

Overall, Howard's achievement made him the first American in over a hundred years of English football to lift the cup. The last American to be part of an FA Cup winning side? Julian Sturgis, who played for Wanderers Football Club in 1873. However, Sturgis mostly lived and worked in Britain and eventually acquired British citizenship, so truthfully, we can give this impressive honor to Tim Howard.

In addition to the FA Cup, he also won a Community Shield (in 2003) and a Football League Cup (during the 2005/2006 season).

4. The reason why the USMNT pulled off the biggest upset at the 2009 Confederations Cup

Spain were the no. 1 team in the world when they faced the United States, so it goes without saying that everyone expected La Furia Roja to cruise to a victory.

Well, not with Howard in goal. He pulled off eight saves to give the Stars and Stripes a 2-0 victory in the semi-finals and their first shut-out of Spain since 2007. More important, the USMNT went on to the final, where although they fell 3-2 to Brazil, they nonetheless finished with a runners-up medal, and Howard won the coveted Golden Glove award for the tournament.

5. The game that inspired many memes and made history

Remember the 2014 World Cup? Although the United States failed to get beyond the round of 16, Tim Howard's amazing performance against Belgium was one for the history books and one that certainly has fans still talking today.

The USMNT were by far the underdogs against Belgium, a team ranked among serious title contenders for the World Cup, and so no one gave them much of a chance against the European powerhouse. And predictably, the Stars and Stripes were bombarded left, right, and center as the Red Devils enjoyed the lion's share of possession and dominated the game.

Except Howard had other plans. He made a whopping 15 saves during that match, which is the most ever for a goalkeeper during a World Cup tie. As a result, the game was forced to extra time, and although Belgium finally got a breakthrough to earn a 2-1 victory, Howard deservedly received the Man of the Match prize for his efforts - and inspired countless memes all over the world with the hashtag "#ThingsTimHowardCouldSave".

6. But perhaps we should not be surprised because...

In 2001, Howard won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year prize at just 22 years old, making him the youngest ever recipient to receive that award in league history - and that record still stands today.

7. He's just as comfortable on a pitch as he is on a court

Like many Americans, Howard was a multi-sport athlete growing up, and thanks to his long wingspan, he excelled in basketball. In fact, during his senior year at North Brunswick Township High School, he averaged approximately 15 points per game and played a vital role in his side making it to the state finals that year.

8. He's highly respected off the pitch as well

In 2001, during the same year he clinched the Howard became the first American recipient of the MLS Humanitarian of the Year prize - an impressive feat as he was just 22 years old at that time. Since then, he has gone on to continue his work with children who suffer from Tourette Syndrome, and in 2014, was recognized by the U.S. Tourette Syndrome Association for his continued work to bring awareness and understanding regarding the condition.

Why? Because Howard himself is a Tourette's sufferer, and he candidly discusses living with the condition as well as obsessive compulsive disorder in his 2014 book, The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them. This has helped to shed further light on both conditions and certainly has inspired a plethora of young people who also suffer from Tourette's to recognize that they are not alone.

9. Not ashamed to proclaim his faith

Like other footballers - Kaka comes to mind - Howard is a proud Christian, and he is not afraid to proclaim his faith. Off the pitch, he's highly involved in an organization called Athletes for Action, which is affiliated with a larger international group named Campus Crusade for Christ, and has spoken openly about how his faith has helped him throughout his long and storied career.

10. Goalkeeper, humanitarian...and college student

Back in 2017, Howard made the same brave decision many older adults in the United States and around the world decide to do at some point in their lives.

He opted to go back to school, decades after being out of the classroom. In his case, the objective is to earn a bachelor's degree in sports management, and thanks to online course offerings from Southern New Hampshire University, he will soon be able to add "college graduate" to his already impressive CV. It is not surprising that SNHU even had him feature in several commercials in the United States to help promote their online programs as a brand ambassador.

So there we have it - ten interesting facts and stats about one of the top shot-stoppers ever to grace the game. Although he may not have the silverware haul to others around the same age - such as Italy's Gianluigi Buffon - one can't deny the impact Howard has had on American football and helping to elevate it on an international stage. Will he be able to help inspire Colorado Rapids to achieve better things in his final season as a professional before signing off at the end of this year?

 

 


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