Feature

Tim Howard: U.S. soccer’s reluctant goalie

The U.S. national team’s prime defender at the World Cup says the last place he wanted to be on the field was standing behind his 10 teammates in front of the goal.

Tim Howard never wanted to be a goalkeeper. Growing up playing soccer in New Jersey, the U.S. national team’s prime defender at the World Cup says the last place he wanted to be on the field was standing behind his 10 teammates in front of the goal. Even today, after earning a reputation as one of soccer’s most accomplished and respected goalkeepers, Howard doesn’t relish the pressure of keeping the ball out of the net—especially since a single goal can decide who wins and who loses. “I don’t like being goalie,” he tells Steve Goff in The Washington Post. “Even now I don’t. I don’t enjoy games. I enjoy the buildup, and I certainly enjoy afterward. But it’s way too intense.” He’d rather play out in the midfield, he says, “breaking up play and passing it to the more talented guys.”

But Howard plays with a steely toughness, which has endeared him to teammates; so has his casual acceptance of Tourette’s syndrome, which he’s had since childhood. “It doesn’t affect me in the slightest,” says Howard. “If you offered me the chance to not have it, I wouldn’t take it. It would be weird or odd if I woke up one morning and there was no urge to tic or clear my throat. It’s like breathing to me.”

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