blog

USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard opens up about his struggles with Tourette's syndrome

14 May 10:00 am

USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard opens up about his struggles with Tourette's syndrome

By Andy Edwards

We already know the British tabloids can be over the top and insensitive when it comes to issues they don't understand, but perhaps no one in the American soccer community knows that better than US national team and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The World Cup veteran and national team fixture since 2007 has gone from being called "disabled" and "retarded" by the British press when he moved to Manchester United in 2003 to something of a club legend and cult hero for current club Everton, all in the space of a decade.

Not only has Howard learned to cope with the Tourette's syndrome that accompanied him his entire life, but he's now raising awareness among children. The message? Tourette's hasn't defined Howard, and nor should it define them.

In the April-May issue of Neurology Now, Howard spoke at length about his life with Tourette's from his childhood struggles to life in the spotlight as a Manchester United and Everton star.

Said Howard of being a little boy with TS: “From the age of 9 to 15, it was just this chaos of different tics, and they were pretty strong. I would just begin to figure out how a tic worked with my body, and, bam, six months or a year later, a new tic would come.”

“On the field I wasn't Tim who had TS or Tim who had tics. I was Tim who scored goals or scored baskets or hit home runs.”

These days, Howard keep the goals out, but you can't help but admire him for pressing on and passing his message onto others with similar challenges.

Howard isn't the only professional athlete who thrived despite the sometimes nasty disorder. Former Major League Baseball player Jim Eisenreich had a 15-year career in the big leagues, while former NBA player Chris Jackson, who Howard himself cites as a role model in his early years with TS, was a first-round draft pick in 1990 and enjoyed a 15-year career in America, Europe and Asia.