Tim Howard is already popular among World Cup viewers for his superhuman performances, but it's what he does off the pitch that makes him a true hero.
The 35-year-old has been manning the American net throughout the past two World Cups and is rightfully recognized as one of the most gifted goalkeepers on the planet.
As an athlete, Howard takes on a heavy task. Goalkeepers are often rendered useless by bitter fans after allowing critical goals. A netminder is an easy scapegoat for a team's failure. In reality, many close followers of the sport, as well as players and managers, know the position is one of the toughest in all of sports.
Howard has never let unjust criticism affect him. In fact, you can make the assumption that it drove him to achieve this impressive list of accomplishments:
- FA Cup: 2003–04
- Football League Cup: 2005–06
- FA Community Shield: 2003
- FA Cup Runner Up: 2008-09
- CONCACAF Gold Cup: 2007
- MLS Humanitarian of the Year: 2001
- MLS Goalkeeper of the Year: 2001
- MLS Best XI: 2001, 2002
- PFA Premier League Team of the Year: 2003–04
- U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2008
- FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Glove: 2009
- MLS All-Star Game MVP: 2009
- (3X) Top 10 IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper: 2003, 2009, 2010
- Best Save CONCACAF Gold Cup: 2011
- CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year: 2013
And let's not forget the remarkable save he made on Sunday that kept USA in the match.
Or the time he scored a goal from his own box, making him the fourth goalkeeper in Premier League history to score.
But going back to the USMNT and Everton goalie's lengthy list of accomplishments, you will find one honor in particular that has less to do with Howard as an athlete and a lot more to do with Howard as a human: the 2001 MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award.
At just 22 years old, Howard earned the distinction for his dedication to raising awareness of Tourette Syndrome (TS), the neurological disorder he was diagnosed with when he was in sixth grade. What he has achieved, in spite of physical and social barriers, is extraordinary.
Howard has never held back from sharing his experiences with the disorder and how he battled his condition to become the athlete and, more importantly, person he is today. Over the course of his career, he has used his fame as a way to raise money for various TS-related charities and fundraisers.
Howard is known to invite children who suffer from TS to soccer matches to show them that there are no limits as to what they can accomplish. As a member of the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Howard is launching his inaugural Leadership Academy this August. The Academy will teach youth suffering from TS the proper skills to conquer life's challenges.
Howard is the perfect definition of a hero. Through overcoming his own struggles, he has empowered thousands of children with TS. He makes sure to leave the greatest legacy he can both on and off the pitch.
At Just Porter, we have always been firm believers that you can never count anyone out. Like Howard, we strive to leave our own legacy.
As Howard proves that no disability can hold you back, we continue to show that upward socioeconomic mobility is possible. We will never give up in our mission to empower children through education.
Not only are we lifting the education of children across the globe, but we are creating a sustainable solution to poverty by creating jobs in the local community.
Howard has used his condition as a motivator throughout his career, ignoring the sinister chants from opposing fans who mock TS. He has proven himself as a world-class athlete, but the way he proved himself to be a world-class citizen is what makes him a true hero.
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