American Exports: Everton's Roberto Martinez calls Tim Howard extension "incredible moment" for club

AMSTERDAM – Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard signed a contract extension to keep him with the club until the summer of 2018, news that delighted manager Roberto Martinez.

The US star still had two seasons and change left on his Toffees pact before agreeing to an improved deal that tacked on another pair of seasons at Goodison Park. Now nearing the end of his first campaign as Everton boss, Martinez took the occasion to proclaim his backstop as the cream of the current Premier League crop.

"[The contract extension] is fantastic news," Martinez told the club website. "To have Tim Howard performing as he has been this season, I cannot see past him to choose the best goalkeeper in the league. For him, in such an important year with the World Cup around the corner, to commit his future for the long term is an incredible moment for the dressing room."

Though Howard will be 39 by the time this new contract runs out, his manager sees no reason why the American should not continue to excel in goal for the team until World Cup 2018 is set to roll around.

"His belief and understanding of the game and his desire to achieve more is contagious," Martinez said. "I think it is fair to say that being a goalkeeper is not like being an outfield player. Tim is a very fit 35-year-old, and as a goalkeeper you probably develop the best years of your career in your 30s because you can anticipate things, dominate your area and control the players in front of you."

For the time being, Howard is trying to help Everton reach the Champions League for the first time since he arrived from Manchester United in 2006. Though the New Jersey native has already led the Toffees to a club-record-tying total of 66 points, they still trail Arsenal for the fourth and final invite to the big UEFA dance by one with four games to play.

Howard has a 0.97 goals-against average and 13 shutouts on the season thus far, both good enough to place him second behind Chelsea's Petr Cech on both league charts. He also recently achieved his longest ever EPL win streak, ringing up seven in a row.

Over his Everton tenure, the American has amassed 343 appearances across all competitions, putting him first among players from outside the British Isles and 22nd overall. Howard is also fourth in shutouts among all netminders in club history and recently moved into the Premier League all-time top 10 for that same category with 117.

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