US goal keeper’s struggle with tourette syndrome

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Tim Howard may be household name as goalie of Team USA, but to his former teachers and coaches he’s a hometown hero.

At the age of 35, Tim Howard is still at the top of his game, and at his New Jersey High School, no-one is surprised.

“You could see the goalie in him, right, because he could anticipate where the ball was going to be next.”

“Nothing Timmy does surprises me, that’s the thing about it.

“When he’s working his heart and you see Timmy Howard doing all things right, you as his teammate, or you as his coach, say ‘Hey I gotta up my game and I’ve got to try to match what he’s doing!’”

Howard played basketball and soccer at north brunswick high schoo, his yearbook quote senior year? “It will take a nation of millions to hold me back.”

He went on to major league soccer. And at 23, he was recruited by one of the best known sports teams in the world.

“When Tim got the call from Manchester United, it was like a win for all of us. That was like, alright, our guy made it, and it was really cool to see.”

For howard, fame also meant responsibility. He lent his body to peta for this anti-fur campaign, and turned a very personal struggle into advocacy.

Faith Rice is the executive director of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. “Tim called us one day and said he wanted to volunteer with the organization,” she said.

Howard had been diagnosed with Tourettes as a child. When he joined Manchester United, British tabloids ridiculed the goalie for the disorder, but he told CNN in 2011 it was an obstacle he never let stand in his way.

“I may not make it, you know, but I don’t want the reason to be Tourette’s Syndrome and so, it’s something that I live with every day and for me now, in my life, it’s like breathing to me. If I woke up one day and didn’t have Tourette Syndrome, it would feel weird.”

Howard has done work with children and their families for the New Jersey Center, and is lending his name to its brand new tim howard leadership academy.

“It’s really important for these kids to have a hero – someone who has dealt with all of the things that they’re dealing with and… has survived!”

And to the kids at North Brunswick High, Howard is a role model too.

“The same hallway that kid walks in is the hallway Tim walked in, that locker may be Tim’s locker. So all these kids have a direct connection, they can see what hard work can do. And it’s right there on TV every other day!”

(Copyright 2014 KTSF. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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