Fate can be a very funny thing.
Whether or not you even believe in fate or destiny, its undeniable that there are millions of little instances that must happen in an exact manner to get a person to where they end up. Even the slightest alteration in ones path can determine entire decades of the future. It can be as banal as taking a left instead of a right, taking drama instead of band in high school or, in the case of Tim Howard, experiencing his first overdose of youthful exuberance in fall, not spring.
I was a rambunctious 6-year-old and my mom said, You gotta get out of the house. Youve got to do something, pick a sport, Howard says. It was fall, so the first one was soccer, so soccer was it. I went out there and the love affair began. It was everythingI got to run around and be with my friends, yell, scream, slide on the ground, get muddy, kick the ball. It was brilliant.
At the time, his mother likely thought she was simply buying herself a couple of hours of relaxation while a young Howard ran off some steam. Theres no way she could have predicted it would alter the entire future of soccer in the United States.
Howard found so much more than an outlet for the well of activity bubbling inside of him; he found a passion that will consume him for the rest of his days. After spending two decades as a goalkeeper in Major League Soccer (MLS), the Premier League and for the United States Mens National Team, Howard has traded in his kit for a suit.
Splitting his time between serving as sporting director for Memphis 901 FC of the USL Championship and appearing as an analyst for NBCSNs coverage of the Premier League, Howard found a way to keep the beautiful game in his life even with his playing days behind him.
Howard wasnt the first American to find success playing in England, but unlike many of his predecessors, his success was sustained over a period of more than a decade. An entire generation of Everton supporters knew only of a team with Howard between the sticks. But when he first made the jump from the MetroStars of the MLS to a tiny little club named Manchester United back in 2003, English fans were very skeptical of the American goalkeeper.
Photos by Peter Roessler
The papers took aim at Howard, not because of his playing style or his youth, but because of the affliction he has been dealing with since he was 10Tourette syndrome. I signed for Man United and in the press, one of the tabloid papers, and theyre all tabloids over there, it said, Man United Signs Disabled Goalkeeper, Howard recalls. If Im being honest, Ive always been a pretty bold and confident person, even as a young kid. Really, if Im being brutally honest, I had just signed for Manchester United. I became a millionaire overnight, nothing was going to take the wind out of my sails.
English football supporters are often noted for their chants, which vary from the mundane to the profane. And much like the tabloids, Howards disorder found its way into chants from supporters of his club and from rival clubs. Manchester United fans had a song that I probably cant repeat, but it was endearing, Howard says. Opposing fans would also chant about it. Youd hear thousands and thousands of people chanting about my Tourette syndrome. In a really odd way, it was somewhat loving. I never really took it seriously. Someone once told me that when they stop talking about you is when you need to worry, so good or bad, Ill take it.
People were certainly talking about Howard when he made his debut at one of the most hallowed grounds in the sport, Old Trafford. Being the goalkeeper for Manchester United can be an overwhelming burden, particularly for a kid from New Jersey whose entire professional career had been played in the United States.
It was scary as hell, Howard remembers about the first time he walked onto the Old Trafford pitch. It was cool, as I was this kid who came from nowhere, but I was also realizing that wasnt going to pay the bills. I needed to figure this thing out very quickly, I was getting thrown into the deep end. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.
And figure it out he did. During his time at United, Howard played a key role in many memorable games, including stopping the decisive penalty against Arsenal to win the Community Shield. Despite this, his time in Manchester would be brief, as he was soon loaned out to Everton. It was in Liverpool where Howard would find his place.
I spent three years at Man United and then 10 glorious years at Everton Football Club, Howard says. Outside of my two children, Everton Football Club is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Being able to play 400 times for that club, becoming an Evertonian myself, loving the fans and having them love me, feeling like thats home theres nothing like it in the world.
Playing at the Gwladys Street End [at Evertons home, Goodison Park] with all those Blues behind you, just willing you on, having this togetherness, he continues, yeah, Im on the field playing, but theyre there. Its just one family, one team, its really special. Like Ive said, I played for Manchester United, which is the biggest football club in the world, and Ive played for Everton, which is the greatest football club in the world.
In Europe, it was Howards play at Everton that captivated football fans, but in the United States he cemented his reputation by playing for his country. For decades the sport would enjoy a brief time in the spotlight every four years during the World Cup. More often than not the door would close on the popularity when the US Mens National Team was eliminated, usually during the group stage.
Photos by Peter Roessler
This changed a little in 1994 when the United States hosted the tournament, but even that boost was fleeting. In the 2000s things started to change thanks to a trio of stars who carried the USMNT to new heights. With forwards Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey pouring in goals and Howard keeping the ball out of the net, the USMNT became a force to be reckoned with.
Any soccer player who grows up with a ball at their feet dreams about playing for their country, Howard says. Then once you dream about playing for your country, you very quickly dream about playing in a World Cup. When you know thats the highest representation you can have as a player it drives you. It drives you to eat, sleep and breathe the game, to do everything in your power to get selected to play in the World Cup. To hear the national anthem being played before going out to play against the best teams in the world, I dedicated my life to [achieving] that.
Given the importance Howard placed on the honor of playing for the USMNT, its no surprise that some of his greatest performances came while wearing the national shirt. He bookended his World Cup career with two performances for the ages. His debut came against England at the 2010 World Cup, where he earned Man of the Match honors in a 1-1 draw against a heavily favored opponent. But it was his performance against Belgium in 2014 that he will be remembered for.
The United States was facing a Belgium team that was stacked with talent on both ends of the pitch. Howard faced an absolute barrage of shots without letting one past for 90 minutes. Belgium broke through in extra time, eventually winning the match 2-1. Even in defeat, Howard walked away with Man of the Match honors as he made 15 saves, a World Cup record.
An opportunity to move on to face Argentina and Messi slipped through the teams fingers, but that is mostly forgotten by USMNT fans who remember the joy of watching one of the worlds best keepers give the performance of his career. Ultimately, when all is said and done, people remember my career for a lot of things, but mostly for that, Howard shares. Its really nice now that Im an old washed-up soccer player and people have vivid memories about where they were and they want to talk about it. Its a really special thing to have a signature moment people care to remember fondly.
Being a soccer star in this country carries a bit more responsibility than it does in other places where the sport is more popular. Stars like Howard are expected to do more than just compete on the pitch; they are also expected to have a hand in growing the game in the sporting culture at large.
I realized that after we went to the World Cup in South Africa and we went to the World Cup in Brazil, there was a crossover taking place during our generation, Howard says. People on Wall Street leaving their jobs early to go into the park, drink a beer and watch on the big screen. NBA and NFL players wearing soccer jerseys and tweeting about the World Cupnow you know youre part of a generation that helped the sport cross over into a whole other realm.
After doing so much for the game from the pitch, Howard is now doing his part from the analysts chair. NBCSNs extensive coverage of the Premier League has been pivotal in creating a new generation of soccer fans. Twenty years ago it was rare to find an American capable of naming more than two or three English teams; now its not out of the ordinary to see somebody sitting on the bus wearing a Wolverhampton scarf.
After spending 22 years on the other side being criticized by commentators, the boot is now on the other foot. This doesnt mean that Howard is taking personal grievances into the studio with himit means hes offering up a viewpoint that can only be held by a goalkeeper who has spent a lifetime watching the game take shape from the back. Youre oftentimes not right in the thick of it, so you see this broad perspective of the field in terms of tactical awareness and spacing, Howard explains. You end up seeing the game differently than other people. Not a better perspective, but a different perspective. I try my best to offer insight in regards to what a defender is thinking in a moment because of what attackers are trying to do to defenders, how an attacking team will try to overload one side to make defenders uncomfortable.
You might not be able to tell while watching Howard on TV, but underneath his business suit hes sporting a massive collection of tattoos. Its obvious that he is a fan of black-and-grey with great taste, particularly in the portraiture he has collected.
Howard started collecting tattoos in the 90s, so just like practically everybody else who was tattooed in the 90s he has some tribal. But its his first tattoo, a Superman symbol, that truly stands out as a time capsule. I was 16 years old and I went down to this place in Jersey with my brothers fake ID, Howard laughs. It was 1996 and I think Superman was a thing. I think Shaquille ONeal had a Superman, so I was like, Im gonna get a Superman. It wasnt the smartest idea, but I was cool the next day in school. At least I thought I was cool, everybody else probably thought I was an idiot (laughs).
His own coolness may have been up for debate, but there is no denying the cool factor of a certain portrait Howard had tattooed by Emma Kierzek. Ive got some really cool portraits that are just special, they capture a moment, he says. JFK was the personification of coolness and here he is just smoking a heater, in a tuxedo, chilling somewhere.
While he adores his many portrait tattoosin addition to the 35th president he also has portraits of his children, his grandfather and othersthe tattoo with the best story behind it is the piece of script on his hand. Im a product of the golden era of hip-hop and Nas is the greatest MC of all time, Howard says. Im not a wanna meet you type of person, but I had to meet Nas. I pulled out all the stops, talked to a bunch of friends, and I ended up going backstage and meeting him.
I was like, Yo, this might be a little weird, but if you sign my hand I would love to get it tattooed, he continues. So he signs my hand. Its midnight, Im calling all over Denver trying to find one of my tattoo artists but no one is open. So I had to sleep with my hand off the bed to make sure it wouldnt smudge. So thats my favorite. For sure. Easily.
A lot of athletes have a hard time when their career is over. For some, its tough to know when exactly is the right time to hang it up. Others have trouble transitioning into the new phase of their lives. Not Howard.
Quite honestly, I have no desire to play the game of soccer, he says. My body is beat up after 22 long years. Im very thankful for what the game has given me, its given me everything. But the time was right.
What if a 6-year-old Tim Howard had never stepped foot on that muddy field so many years ago? Would people still be ducking out of their offices to watch the USMNT play in the World Cup? Would thousands of blue-clad Americans head out to the bar at 7 a.m. to watch Everton Football Club take on their hated rivals, Liverpool?
Well never know the answers to these questions simply because fate placed Tim Howard exactly where he was supposed to be.
Photos by Peter Roessler
Special thanks to the gracious team at Chelsea Piers for hosting this photoshoot.
Read the rest here:
- Ink Evolution - Flathead Beacon - February 20th, 2021
- Review: In a Promising Debut Feature, Test Pattern Chronicles the Search for Care After Sexual Assault - thirdcoastreview.com - February 20th, 2021
- The 50 Best Tattoo Parlours in America Big 7 Travel - February 17th, 2021
- Los Angeles Tattoo Shop Studio City Tattoo Los Angeles ... - February 17th, 2021
- Inkies Tattoo - February 17th, 2021
- Las Vegas BEST friendly and professional Tattoo Studio 21 - February 17th, 2021
- World Tattoo Studio Custom Tattoo Shop in Denver, Colorado - February 17th, 2021
- The Pittsburgh Tattoo Studio - Dormont Pa - Tattoo and ... - February 17th, 2021
- Vivid Skin Tattoo Studio - Home - February 17th, 2021
- Paramount Tattoo Studio - Piercings, Tattoos - February 17th, 2021
- Auckland Tattoo Studio | Otautahi - Unique Tattoos New Zealand - February 17th, 2021
- Tattoo Shop in Houston | Houston Tattoo Shop | Tattoo Shop ... - February 17th, 2021
- Home | InkBook Tattoo Software - February 17th, 2021
- Kenan Thompson says words were 'twisted' in controversial 2013 interview about the lack of Black women on 'SNL' - Yahoo Lifestyle - February 17th, 2021
- Charlie Cartwright: The Godfather of Black-and-Grey Fine Line Tattooing - Scene 360 - February 17th, 2021
- Tributes paid in memory of talented Blood Rush tattoo artist - Leighton Buzzard Observer - February 17th, 2021
- Artist and Influencer Mikey B Made It is legally trappin art from the hood to Hollywood - Press Release - Digital Journal - February 17th, 2021
- 14 up-and-coming queer Irish creatives to support in 2021 - http://gcn.ie/ - February 17th, 2021
- The Canvas Tattoo & Piercing Studio A tattoo and body ... - February 15th, 2021
- Tattoo Studio Game - Play online at Y8.com - February 15th, 2021
- Tattoo Studio | Virginia Beach | Whiskey River - February 15th, 2021
- REV23 - Tattoo & Body Piercing Studio Software, Apps ... - February 15th, 2021
- Firme Copias Tattoo & Art Studio - Best Tattoo Shop San ... - February 15th, 2021
- Aliens Tattoo | Best Tattoo Studio in Mumbai /India | Best ... - February 15th, 2021
- Tattoo artists share the common request many of them will refuse to do - Mirror Online - February 15th, 2021
- Blue Light Body Arts to open on the bricks in spring - Hays Daily News - February 15th, 2021
- Fire in tattoo studio in Husthwaite near Thirsk | York Press - York Press - February 15th, 2021
- Frosted Flakes: Kusche Sets Mile Record, Neanderthal Poop and a Very Good Dog - Corn Nation - February 15th, 2021
- 'My girlfriend thinks my tattoo is for her - I don't have the heart to tell her the truth' - Mirror Online - February 15th, 2021
- Norfolk tattooist turns to art in lockdown - Eastern Daily Press - February 15th, 2021
- Tattoo artists reveal their worst mistakes ever and how the clients reacted - Daily Star - February 10th, 2021
- Student, 23, who cant tell her left from right gets L and R TATTOOED on her hands as a permanent reminder - The Irish Sun - February 10th, 2021
- Nine things tattoo artists hate clients doing when they get inked - Daily Star - February 8th, 2021
- Tattoo Studio Software Market Analysis, Size, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies and Forecasts to 2026 - AlgosOnline - February 6th, 2021
- Celebrating five of Salisbury's independent salons and shops - Salisbury Journal - February 6th, 2021
- Machine Gun Kelly Revealed That Pete Davidson Gave Him The Worst Tattoo On The Set Of "Big Time Adolescence" - BuzzFeed - February 6th, 2021
- Body Artist Brian Keith Thompson Talks Star Wars Influence - Monsters and Critics - February 6th, 2021
- Columbus rappers and engineers embrace work from home with new DIY spaces - Columbus Alive - February 5th, 2021
- Student, 23, who cant tell her left from right gets L and R TATTOOED on her hands as a permanent reminder - The Sun - February 5th, 2021
- Woman who has 'always struggled to tell right from left' gets them tattooed on her hands - Mirror Online - February 5th, 2021
- Two Singaporean women pioneering in the rise of hand-poked tattoos - News24 - February 4th, 2021
- The most basic tattoos artists secretly hate as they reveal the one inking they will NEVER do - The Sun - February 4th, 2021
- 'Basic' tattoos artists secretly hate doing - and the ones they'll refuse to do - Mirror Online - February 4th, 2021
- Pizza, tattoos and a smoke shop: 5 businesses coming soon to New Braunfels - Community Impact Newspaper - February 4th, 2021
- Six tattoos artists secretly hate doing and the offensive requests they refuse - Daily Star - February 4th, 2021
- Petition calling for reopening of body modification studios gains more than 10K signatures - CTV News Winnipeg - February 4th, 2021
- 'I'm healthy in every sense of the word': Young men on living life as HIV positive - The Tab - January 27th, 2021
- Hublot Expands Its Classic Fusion Orlinski Collection With Two New Ceramic Watches - aBlogtoWatch - January 27th, 2021
- Sterilize your knives and other kitchen utensils with just the push of a button - Yahoo Lifestyle - January 27th, 2021
- Ireland Baldwin Tugs Down Her Pants To Show Off Her Lace Panties, Butt, And Tattoo - The Inquisitr - January 27th, 2021
- Sherbrooke-based tattoo artists ready to get back to the studio - Sherbrooke Record - January 22nd, 2021
- Musician tattoos | Tats inspired by their own music - Alternative Press - January 22nd, 2021
- Tattoo Studio Software Market report has been assessed in accordance with the current Market trends 2020 - NeighborWebSJ - January 20th, 2021
- Tattooist publicly shames customer who tried to get away without paying 'due to Covid' - Mirror Online - January 20th, 2021
- The 5 Top Piercing Trends Pros Are Predicting For 2021 - Refinery29 - January 20th, 2021
- What it has been like to be a tattoo artist in Lincolnshire during the pandemic - Lincolnshire Live - January 20th, 2021
- Rhude Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection - Vogue.com - January 20th, 2021
- New Mural in Brewery Block - Big Island Now - January 15th, 2021
- UD Artist Spotlight: Colleen Anderson The Review - University of Delaware Review - January 15th, 2021
- Tattoo artists share 6 of their favorite designs to ink, and 5 they don't really like - Insider - INSIDER - January 12th, 2021
- Parents cause outrage by subjecting their 7-year-old daughter to a tattoo on her leg - Explica - January 12th, 2021
- What it has been like to be a tattoo artist in Nottinghamshire during the pandemic - Nottinghamshire Live - January 9th, 2021
- Buzz in the CBD as Lismore inks in new tattoo studio - Northern Star - January 9th, 2021
- Ashley Martson removes tattoo dedicated to ex-husband Jay Smith - Monsters and Critics - January 9th, 2021
- ON THE RECORD: Harmonica man Sugar Blue and 'huh?' - The Sanford Herald - January 9th, 2021
- Young Cornish tattooist is 'like an old lady' because of condition - Cornwall Live - January 5th, 2021
- Business notes: Cinder and Sea to hold art classes in the new year - Cowichan Valley Citizen - January 3rd, 2021
- Striking image takes first place in Cleator Moor competition | News and Star - News & Star - January 3rd, 2021
- 15 things to watch out for in the new Pixar movie - Inspired Traveler - December 31st, 2020
- The Glasgow 'society tattooist' admired by Billy Connolly and the upper classes - Glasgow Times - December 28th, 2020
- blackbear Thrived This Year and Probably Will Next Year - SPIN - December 28th, 2020
- Planning chiefs give the go-ahead for retail unit to be turned into tattoo studio - Salisbury Journal - December 25th, 2020
- Ink Master Season 2: Where Are They Now? Ink Master Season 2 Winners Today - The Cinemaholic - December 25th, 2020
- Kat Von D, famed tattoo artist, slams California's 'tyrannical' overreach: 'Indiana here we come!' - Washington Times - December 25th, 2020
- Disneys Snow White: 10 Evil Queen Tattoos That Prove She Was The Fairest Of Them All - Screen Rant - December 25th, 2020
- Bollywood tattoo artist Vikas Malani on how COVID-19 affected the tattoo industry - The Hindu - December 25th, 2020
- Man travels 7km along SH1 on back of his stolen ute, trying to convince alleged thief to stop - Stuff.co.nz - December 25th, 2020
- COVID-19 and Tattoos: The Correlation To Your Safety - Mid-day - December 19th, 2020
- Sabrina Carpenter Shows Off Her First Tattoo, And Her Costars Have Some Thoughts - The Inquisitr - December 19th, 2020
- How Many Tattoos Does Dua Lipa Have? Inside All of Her Tattoos and Their Meanings - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - December 19th, 2020