Tim Howard will hang up his gloves, well worn from thousands of saves throughout the years, whenever the Colorado Rapids' 2019 season ends. Dismounting from one of the most successful professional soccer careers of his American generation, he'll enter a new existence.
Howard would have to reach far back in the recesses of his memory to call upon a year that didn't revolve around the beautiful game, having signed with the North Jersey Imperials in 1997 before making his MLS debut with the MetroStars in 1998. More than two decades later, there is an end date in sight for a kid from North Brunswick, New Jersey.
“I’ll miss coming into work every day," Howard admitted on a media conference call Tuesday. "Who gets to go to work with some of their greatest friends, and laugh, joke, work hard together and push for the same things? It’s like a drug—that’s probably a bad analogy, but it is. It’s addicting. That camaraderie, the build-up to the game, you can’t replicate that.”
Howard's addiction to professional soccer won't subside, it'll just shift to a new vantage point. He is a minority owner in Memphis 901 FC, who will debut in the USL Championship in 2019, as well as Dagenham & Redbridge, who currently are in England's Conference Premier, the tier below the fourth division in the country's Football Association. He wants to be more present in London, where Dag & Red call home, an Eastern suburb of the English capital.
He also won't disappear from the public sphere, as Howard began working with Turner Sports as an analyst for the Champions League last year. He's a natural with a mic in his face, an incredible accomplishment for someone who deals with Tourette Syndrome, and his role in broadcasting will only grow upon retirement.
“What excites me and what interests me is my ownership stakes in Memphis and in Dagenham," Howard proudly asserted. "My television work, that I’m contracted to, will take up a lot of my future time. But the idea is to be over in London way more than once a year. … That’s the only way ownership works: if you’re hands-on, you can get a sense for the team and the club.”
With those commitments, there's no time to think about getting into coaching, right?
“I can tell you this whole-heartedly: If someone got me to coach a bunch of professional athletes, they’d have to pay me more money than the U.S. Treasury because it’s not a job that I would enjoy in any way, shape or form," Howard said. "It’s difficult. It’s time-consuming. You get very little of the glory and all of the pain. It’s not something I’d even think about.”
Howard in one of his 354 Premier League appearances with Everton | Action Images/Reuters
Howard signed with Manchester United after his first stint in Major League Soccer. It was a dream, but it didn't work out exactly to plan and he headed for the exit door in 2006.
As fate would have it, that decision would lead to an unbreakable bond with Everton.
“I just wanted to be a professional soccer player in Europe, lo and behold Manchester United offered me a contract so I grabbed the nearest pen and I signed it," Howard said. "Things didn’t work out there for me, so it was time for me to move on. Little did I know, the single greatest thing to happen to me after my children was to sign for Everton Football Club. Who would have known that? I spent a decade there, Everton has a piece of my heart that can never be relinquished.”
Now back stateside where his career began, Howard is focused on getting this announcement out of the way so he can focus on one last season.
“This is something that has been on my radar for a number of years now, probably since I signed in Colorado," Howard said. "I knew that the length of the contract would take me to being 40, it seemed like the right time. ... In terms of timing, it makes a lot of sense to do it now before the season to kind of get it out of the way so it’s not a distraction, that’s what’s most important to me.”
Until his final match, U.S. Soccer's Secretary of Defense will savor every moment.