After 22 seasons as a professional soccer goalkeeper, Tim Howard is trading in his cleats for a snowboard and a microphone. Howard retired in October after an illustrious career that included a 2014 World Cup game in which he had a record 15 saves for the U.S. national team. The next step for the 40-year-old Howard in his retirement is to take up amateur snowboarding. He won’t be leaving soccer entirely, though. He’s an analyst covering the Champions League for Turner Sports.
Howard, who was born in North Brunswick, New Jersey, started playing professional soccer at the age of 18 and made his MLS debut at 19. He went to the Premier League and played for Manchester United and Everton, and, most recently, the Colorado Rapids of MLS.
Among his many awards, Howard has a U.S.-record 121 international appearances as a goalkeeper and three World Cup appearances; was named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2001 and U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year (’08, ’14); and was awarded the FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Glove in ’09.
Although Howard’s outstanding performance in the 2014 World Cup game against Belgium ended in a 2–1 loss, it sparked the meme #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, which includes Howard saving everything from the Titanic to kids’ grades.
Howard accomplished all this despite having Tourette’s Syndrome (TS), which causes involuntary tics (repeated movements or unwanted sounds), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which makes a person feel compelled to do something over and over. Howard says TS actually gave him an advantage by enabling him to hyper-focus on soccer. As a kid, he would watch documentaries about soccer greats such as Pelé and then spend hours every day in his backyard practicing the skills he learned.
Howard serves as a role model for kids with TS and is very active in the community. “I think I bring hope to those who have TS,” Howard said. “They might be feeling overwhelmed at what their future looks like, and the idea is to go out there, and put my best foot forward every day, and always show up, because of or in spite of TS. I think when I go and meet young kids, they often say that they feel like they can do anything. That means the world to me.”
Reflecting on his career, Howard thinks back fondly on his stint with Everton. When asked about the team that helped him the most, he said, “That’s an easy one, I’d say. Everton Football Club is where I grew and learned everything about the game and life, and it’s the most magical place on Earth.”
Howard also said he learned the value of patience and resilience: “I wish someone had told me that [when I was younger]. Be patient and resilient.”