During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, American goalkeeper Tim Howard made 16 acrobatic saves. Even though his team lost to Belgium, Howard broke the record for the most saves in a World Cup match.
Howard, 36, is an improbable hero. He has confronted many obstacles to reach the top of his game.
He didn’t start out as a star. As a teenager in New Jersey, he barely registered on the national stage.
Once he hit his stride as a talented Major League Soccer player, he gained more acclaim. Manchester United signed him to a contract in 2003, and he performed well in his first season.
But as his second season fizzled, his star sank. He wound up on the less prestigious Everton club with his career in doubt.
Rather than sulk, Howard excelled. In 2009, he helped Everton beat his old Manchester United team in the FA cup tournament.
Howard’s fortitude inspires his teammates. After breaking two bones in his back during a 2013 game, he powered on and led Everton to victory.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock Howard has faced is his battle with Tourette syndrome. For 25 years, he has suffered tics from the neurological disorder that could have prevented him from becoming a world-class goalkeeper.
When a reporter asked him if his disorder might cause him to drop a ball, he replied, “It won’t.”
Soccer fans are notoriously rowdy, and they’ve mocked Howard from the stands. Despite hearing insults from the opposing crowd, he never flinches.
— Adapted from “Team USA lost, but TimHoward is a winner,” Emily Shire, www.thedailybeast.com.