The US may have been eliminated yesterday, but instead of mourning, many fans are today toasting a heroic performance from Tim Howard, who set a World Cup record with 16 saves—the previous record was 13. Howard's now-undisputed status as the greatest US goalkeeper ever is all the more remarkable, the Washington Post points out, because he has Tourette's syndrome—something the UK tabloids and fans mocked him mercilessly for early in his career. "United want American with brain disorder," read a typical headline when Manchester United first signed him.
Howard doesn't involuntarily swear—few Tourette's patients do—but he does experience tics and twitches. Except, that is, when the ball is coming toward him. "I have no idea how I do it," he once said. "Not even my doctors can explain it to me." In fact, Howard has in the past said that the condition might make him a better keeper, and that's actually possible. As the BBC points out, studies have shown that Tourette's patients can have a heightened ability to control their voluntary movements. Whatever his secret, Americans are grateful, and if this his last World Cup—he's 35—he's at least going out amidst a torrent of love. Some of the stories being posted about Howard today include:
- Some fans created a White House petition after the game to rename the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after him, Politico reports.
- Others briefly edited Wikipedia to list Howard as US Secretary of Defense.
- On Twitter, fans created the hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave, Photoshopping the goalie deflecting everything from the meteor that killed the dinosaurs to the sinking Titanic.
- Even Belgium's captain, Vincent Kompany, showed some love, in a tweet spotted by NPR. "Two words.. TIM HOWARD #Respect," he wrote.
- Mashable points out an image from Howard's senior yearbook floating around the Internet that, if real, features a quote that "could not have been more perfect." Under his picture it reads, "It will take a nation of millions to hold me back."