Howard: Football was my freedom
In the latest UTD Podcast, former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard opens up about Tourette's syndrome.
The American shot-stopper played for the Reds between 2003 and 2007, making 77 appearances under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The keeper, who won two FA Cups, one League Cup and a Community Shield for the club, went on to also have a great career after he left United. He impressed at Everton for a number of years and also made a record number of appearances for his national team during his career, particularly standing out for USA at the 2014 World Cup.
In the latest edition of our official club podcast, Howard explains how it feels to live and play football with Tourette's syndrome and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
Speaking to presenters Sam Homewood, Helen Evans and ex-Red David May, Howard talks openly about the disorder and why football was so important to him.
"One of the reasons I loved soccer was because it was uninhibited," the now-retired goalkeeper said.
"In all of my other world, I was bottled up, but I could go on a soccer pitch and I could be in the park. I was a fast kid. I was strong. Coaches loved me and I could do what I wanted. They blew the whistle, and I just went - I was slide tackling… I got to a point where my coach would say: ‘No slide tackling, you always end up on the ground!’ It was great, it was my freedom."
Howard started experiencing the first symptoms between the ages of nine and 10, which particularly impacted his school experience negatively."When I was about nine or 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, which also comes with associated disorders like hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder," he explained.
"So it was hard to sit still in school, it's hard to be at home in my room, trying to just be contained. I love being outside and loved just being allowed to do whatever it was I wanted to do and football gave me that opportunity."
However, in a number of sports, Howard stood out and found a place to be himself where he could thrive.
“I love soccer, just for what it was, but it also gave me that freedom," the American said.
"This is the one place that I was judged for something else. If I was in the supermarket or I was at school maybe, kids would make fun or maybe people would snigger and sneer and look.
"Whereas, when I was on the soccer field, all they cared about was that I scored goals. When I was on the basketball court, all they cared was that I could dunk a basketball. Nothing else mattered to me.”
The UTD Podcast featuring Howard is live in our Official App from 17:00 BST on Monday and will become available on other streaming devices on Tuesday.