Tim Howard’s way

Tim Howard has cemented his position as Everton’s number one goalkeeper, helping the club establish themselves as challengers for the European places, writes Andy Hampson.

Tim Howard, the athletic goalkeeper from the United States who first came to the Barclays English Premier League with Manchester United, is now carving out a successful career at Everton after falling out of favour at Old Trafford.

Howard, who hails from North Brunswick, New Jersey, began playing professionally with the North Jersey Imperials immediately after leaving high school. He made quick progress and was signed up by the Major League Soccer for New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 1998.

He was initially an understudy to first Tony Meola, the former United States World Cup goalkeeper, and then ex-Charlton stopper Mike Ammann. He finally broke through in the 2001 season and played well enough to earn a place in the MLS All-Star team. With that came the MLS Aquafina award as Goalkeeper of the Year and international recognition followed a year later.

With the US having produced a number of fine goalkeepers over the past decade, it was not long before the European clubs started to show interest in Howard. He trained with Feyenoord, but moved to one of the biggest clubs, Manchester United, in 2003.

United paid GBP2.3million in time for Howard to join them on a timely tour of the US. He went straight into the side ahead of the erratic Fabien Barthez and made an early impact with a penalty save against Arsenal in the FA Community Shield.

It was not until the middle of the season that he began to suffer his first real setbacks. A couple of errors cost him his place in the side but he was soon restored and featured in the team that beat Millwall in the FA Cup final.

Howard had still done enough in his first season in England to be named in the Professional Footballers’ Association team of the year but the following campaign was far less successful. He battled with Roy Carroll for a place throughout the season, but neither truly convinced.

The club took action by bringing in Dutch veteran Edwin van der Sar in the summer of 2005 and from then on Howard’s Old Trafford days were numbered. He was allowed to join Everton on loan in the summer of 2006 and the deal was made permanent the following February. Since then Howard has cemented his position as Everton’s number one, helping the club establish themselves as challengers for the European places.

On the international front, Howard seems to have taken over from Kasey Keller as US’s first choice after being below him in the pecking order at the 2006 World Cup.

Howard’s move to Everton may have turned out well, but at the time the manner of his United exit was disappointing. He had just signed a new contract committing himself to the club for another four years — and Carroll had just left — when Van der Sar arrived. Howard later admitted that he would never have signed the new deal had he known about the Dutchman’s signing.

When he went to Everton on loan he said he was unlikely to return as he had no intention of serving as a number two.

“You need someone who accepts that position and doesn’t rock the boat,” he said. “It’s not in my blood because I like a little bit of fire. I don’t think I am the type.”

Howard married his wife Laura in New York’s Central Park just days before his move to United in 2003. They had their official reception in her native Memphis some time later. They have two children.

Away from football, Howard is known for his charity work. He suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome — although it has never affected his career — and has won acclaim for his work with children with the condition.

During his time with United, Howard was seen driving around the city in a BMW 530i, a superb hi-tech executive style car.

FACTFILE Name: Tim Howard Position: Goalkeeper Club: Everton D.O.B.: 03/06/1979 USA Caps: 25 USA Goals: 0 USA Debut: v Ecuador, March 2002 Moment to remember

After briefly losing his place, Howard returned to the Manchester United side in the second half of 2003-04 and capped a fine season by winning the FA Cup. He actually had little to do in the final as United crushed Millwall 3-0 and he was even replaced by Carroll with six minutes remaining as manager Sir Alex Ferguson attempted to share out the glory. However, becoming the first American to win the competition was quite an achievement.

Moment to forget

Howard was not actually involved in the game he may choose to forget most — but he was certainly the focus of attention. He was controversially left out by Everton for last April’s clash with United.

It was initially assumed this was part of the loan agreement between the two clubs but, as the deal had already been made permanent, it was actually a gentleman’s agreement. Therefore, there were accusations that Everton had allowed a third party to influence selection but neither club were deemed to have broken regulations.