Born: June 3, 1979
Town: North Brunswick
Timothy Matthew Howard was born on March 6, 1979, in North Brunswick. Tim’s parents, Matthew and Esther, encouraged Tim and his older brother, Chris, to get involved in athletics. Chris gravitated toward football and baseball. Tim liked soccer and basketball. The Howard’s marriage broke up when Tim was three, although his father stayed very involved in his life. More troubling to the young man were the tics and compulsive behavior he developed in grade school. He was teased by classmates and yelled at by teachers.
Finally, in Sixth Grade, Tim was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary body movements and vocal sounds. Tim took comfort in the knowledge that two high-profile athletes—baseball star Jim Eisenreich and basketball star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly known as Chris Jackson)—had succeeded despite suffering from Tourette Syndrome.
Tim was tall, quick and had explosive jumping ability. The natural choice would have been basketball. But while attending a goalkeepers camp at Rutgers when he was 10, Tim met coach Tim Mulqueen. Mulqueen became a mentor on and off the field, eventually recruiting him to play for the Central Jersey Knights travel squad. Tim also played for North Brunswick High’s soccer and basketball teams.
Tim’s senior year for the Raiders was something special. Playing power forward at 6'3", he helped the basketball team reach the state playoffs. As a striker for the soccer team, he had 22 goals and 14 assists, earning All-State honors. Tim was being recruited by several top colleges, but he received an intriguing offer from Mulqueen—he wanted Tim to play goalkeeper for the New Jersey Imperials, a club in Premier Development League. With the support of his parents, Tim decided to skip college and start his pro career in 1997.
The MetroStars of Major League Soccer signed Tim as a Project 40 player after a year with the Imperials. At the age of 19, Tim found himself as the backup to one of his childhood heroes, Tony Meola, who took him under his wing. Tim got into his first MLS game in August of 1998. He made five saves to win 4–1. Tim also caught the eye of USA Soccer that summer, and was added to the Under-20 roster.
Tim’s playing time increased in 1999 and 2000, both with the MetroStars and Team USA. He served as backup to Brad Friedl during the 2000 Olympics. In 2001, he became the MetroStars’ starting goalkeeper. He led MLS in saves, was named to the Best XI and won Goalkeeper of the Year. He had another fine year in 2002, but was disappointed when he was passed over for the World Cup team.
Tim got a monster break in 2003, when Manchester United—one of the most famous soccer team’s in the world—signed him to replace goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Tim played his frist game for ManU against Italian powerhouse Juventus at Giants Stadium, and responded with a 4–1 win. Tim had his ups and downs during the 2003–04 season, and briefly lost his job to Roy Carroll. But he was back between the pipes for Manchester’s FA Cup championship. Tim was just the second American to earn a winner’s medal for the FA Cup. In 2005–06, he helped Manu win the prestigious League Cup competition.
Tim continued to make appearances for Team USA. In 2006, he was named backup to Kasey Keller for the World Cup. Beginning in 2007, when Bob Bradley became the head coach, Tim became the team’s preferred starter. That year he helped Team USA win the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. In 2008, he was named USA Soccer’s Athlete of the Year. And in 2010, Tim made his first World Cup appearance and was named Man of the Match in a victory over England.
In 2006–07, Tim was acquired by Everton. Among his many highlights for his new team was saving two penalty kicks against Manchester United in a 2009 FA Cup semifinal match. His saves boosted Everton into the FA Cup Final. During that 2008–09 season, Tim also set the club record for shutouts. In 2009, Tim played for Everton against the MLS All-Stars. Everton won on penalty kicks and Tim was named MVP of the game.
During the 2011–12 season, Tim scored a goal on a gargantuan clearing kick that eluded the Bolton Wanderers’ keeper and gave Everton a 2–1 win. In 2012, Tim made his 450th career appearance, counting pro and international matches. Not shabby for a player who is only in his early 30s...and still at the top of his game.