Tim Howard has played countless soccer games in his life.
A well-established star in Major League Soccer and Premier League clubs Manchester United and Everton before becoming netminder for the U.S. soccer team, Howard has a lifetime of achievement of coming through in the clutch.
However, with little argument, Howard will be playing in the biggest game of his highlight-filled career Wednesday in South Africa. If the United States defeats Algeria it will advance out of pool play into the World Cup quarterfinals. If it ties, as it has in its first two matches against England and Slovenia, it will need help. A loss and the Americans will be sent packing.
Howard played through a painful rib injury against Slovenia and is grateful to see his U.S. teammates and fans fired up over a controversial call which erased what could have been the winning goal.
Regardless of the outcome against Algeria – or in coming matches should the U.S. advance – Howard is buoyed by his unabashed Christian faith.
Howard has Tourette’s Syndrome, which can lead to uncontrolled verbal outbursts and physical spasms. His depth and breadth of faith was nurtured by his grandmother at a young age.
“As a child I saw peace in my grandmother’s life,” Howard writes in his Athletes in Action testimony. “Nana’s sense of peace was so powerful because it came from her faith in the Lord. Through her, God revealed His love for me as well. It wasn’t long before I was following in her footsteps. I wanted the same kind of faith and peace she had, and that is exactly what God gave me. “
He also mentions his favorite Bible verse is Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
“I’m not perfect,” he told Baptist Press. “I’m far from it and that is the reason I do need Jesus. I try to live it…. I stumble, as many people do, but always in the belief that I’m loved and that I’m meaningful.”
And the meaning for him will clearly stretch beyond one soccer game, no matter how critical it may be.