Tim Howard: The Games That Changed My Life

The former Manchester United and Everton shot-stopper chooses his six most important matches for club and country

Aug 8, 1998: New York/New Jersey MetroStars 4-1 Colorado Rapids

This was my first proper MLS game, for the MetroStars at Giants Stadium, so for obvious reasons it’s a match I remember very well. I was very nervous that day – as a young goalkeeper you don’t have as much confidence in yourself – but I made one outstanding save, which was what I needed to know I could play at that level. And we won the game.

Tim Howard

Howard's MLS career got off to a terrific start

Mar 10, 2002: USA 1-0 Ecuador 

As a kid I had always dreamed of competing for my country at the World Cup

Much like my club career, my first USA game is one that made me, and again I was on the winning side. We beat Ecuador, with Eddie Lewis scoring, and my mum made it down from New Jersey [to Legion Field, Alabama] to be there, which was all I needed that day. As a kid I had always dreamed of competing for my country at the World Cup, and that friendly was the start of it all.

Aug 10, 2003: Man United 1-1 Arsenal (4-3 pens)

There are a lot of firsts here, but they mean a lot to me. To move to a club like United was fabulous. For Sir Alex Ferguson to want me was life-changing – I often said I could live off that for the rest of my life. I was still a kid, 24, and I made my debut at the Millennium Stadium. It may have been the Community Shield but I’d never played in a game of that magnitude. We won in a shootout so I got to save a few, which is always helpful when you arrive at a new club.

Sep 9, 2006: Everton 3-0 Liverpool

To win 3-0 in front of our fans and to keep a clean sheet was a great way to start that rivalry

Another first... the Merseyside derby. I didn’t really know what the fixture was all about at that point, but it didn’t take long to work it out. To win 3-0 in front of our fans and to keep a clean sheet was a great way to start that rivalry. I’ve played Manchester United vs Liverpool and Everton vs Liverpool and, for me the Merseyside derby feels like the bigger occasion. Everton are my club and always will be. I feel more emotion towards them.

June 24, 2009: Spain 0-2 USA 

It was the semi-final of a major tournament and the opportunity for us to get into a [Confederations Cup] final, against a side who hadn’t lost in 36 games. It was one of the greatest Spanish teams of all time so we had no business being on the same field, let alone winning the game. The result opened a few eyes in the States.

July 1, 2014: Belgium 2-1 USA (aet)

Someone mentioned the record [the most saves in a World Cup game] but I don’t remember most of them

Just an epic match. We played our hearts out and it just didn’t come off. For me, I had one of the games of my life. We were going in for doping at full-time and someone mentioned the record [the most saves in a World Cup game] but I don’t remember most of them – you don’t think about it in the moment. It was my toughest game to lose. For it to go to extra-time, you just want to win, so there was real emotion.

This feature originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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