Tim Howard is arguably one of the greatest goalkeeper in U.S. soccer history. During the course of the 2014 World Cup, he’s had 16 saves, which is three more than the previous World Cup record of 13. Okay, you probably did know all about that.
But, bet you didn’t know that Howard also has Tourette syndrome.
Howard’s facial tics began when he was 10 years old. Unfamiliar situations made him anxious and he developed obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
But today, Howard says he’s most proud that he didn’t allow himself “to be restricted by Tourette syndrome. One of the biggest things I can do is be in the public eye,” he told Neurology Now. “I’m on television, ticcing and twitching. I think that’s kind of cool.”
But what is Tourette syndrome?
According to Mayo Clinic, Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that generally begins in childhood. The condition causes a person to make repeated, quick movements or sounds that they cannot control. These movements or sounds are called tics.
“I’ve never had a curse word simply slip out,” Howard said.
However, Howard always has had to focus on managing his emotions, as well as emotional tics and flare-ups.
“It happens all the time, without any warning, and it increases the nearer an important game draws,” he said. “It always occurs more when I am particularly nervous.”
When the ball is far away, he says he doesn’t try to control the tics. But, interestingly, he says that when he’s facing a particularly stressful moment in a game, his muscles often remain miraculously calm.
“I have no idea how I do it,” Howard said. “Not even my doctors can explain it to me. It’s probably because at that moment my concentration on the game is stronger than Tourette syndrome.”