Five things you didn’t know about U.S. soccer MVP Tim Howard


(Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Tim Howard is an awesome goalkeeper. But you already know that. Here are five things you might not know about the U.S. soccer star who broke a World Cup record by saving 16 goals during Tuesday’s match against Belgium.

1. He’s 35! That may not be old in the real world, but in soccer life, that’s beyond retirement age. In fact, Howard is the 11th oldest player in the World Cup this year, where the average age of all players is just 25.4, according to Goal.com. However, being “old” won’t stop him. Howard has been the starting goalie for the English Premier League team Everton and is signed until 2018.

2. He is covered in cool tattoos, and is also a big animal-rights activist. “Protecting animals is very important to me, and I think speaking out against fur is an amazing cause,” Howard told PETA. “When I see someone wearing fur, I just want to sit them down in front of one of PETA’s videos and show them just how badly animals suffer for this supposed fabric that no one needs.”

3. He has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause involuntary physical and verbal tics. “I’ve never counted [how many tics I have in a game,” Howard told Spiegel Online. “It happens all the time, without any warning, and it increases the nearer an important game draws.” However, when push comes to shove, or rather ball comes to goal, Howard says his muscles calm. “I have no idea how I do it,” the New Jersey native told the German publication. “Not even my doctors can explain it to me. It’s probably because at that moment my concentration on the game is stronger than the Tourette’s syndrome.”

4. He was drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters in 2009. Oh, you thought he was only good at soccer? Howard, who’s 6 feet 3, has always had a penchant for basketball. Of course, being drafted by the Globetrotters doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be playing against the Washington Generals. It’s more of a PR stunt to draw attention to the team. The only other soccer player to get the call has been Argentina’s Lionel Messi in 2011.

5. He’s very religious. A devout Christian, Howard once wrote for Athletes in Action (via Christian Today):

“Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sens of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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