Over the next month I may be writing more and more “Idiots guides to enjoying the World Cup.” I’m a bandwagon soccer fan that gets into the international phenomenon when it comes around every four years. After reading up on U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, I thought his story was interesting enough for my latest installment of information for bandwagon soccer fans like myself.

If you watched the United States’ 1-1 match against England on Saturday, you know that despite letting the first one get by him, Howard was the hero for the American squad. He made six saves in the 90 minutes and is without a doubt a vocal leader for the Americans.

Howard plays professional soccer in the English Premiere League and has gained international respect from players and coaches around the world. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson brought Howard overseas to play in the EPL and had great things to say about him in an Associated Press article. “We’re delighted, because I love the lad. Good lad,” Ferguson said.

For fans like myself that enjoy the physical aspect of soccer (from my addiction to baseball and American football) Howard is an easy guy to like. The 6′ 3″, 210 pound goalkeeper has been a credited example of the U.S. recent success in international soccer and is a physical player that isn’t afraid to take shot from an opposing player to save a goal. The 31 year old took a pair of cleats to the ribs in a collision with Emile Heskey in Saturday’s match up and despite having bruised or even broken ribs, he’s still expected to play Friday versus Slovania.

At a young age, Howard was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and was mentored as a teenager by Tim Mulqueen, the United States’ U-17 men’s national soccer team’s assistant coach. Along with being a star midfielder in high school, Howard also excelled in basketball, he was even pursued by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Howard’s professional career started in the United States with the New Jersey Imperials, then in 2003 Manchester United paid $4 million to transfer him from the MLS to the EPL. He served as a back up for Brad Friedel in the 2000 Summer Olympics, was the back up goal keeper for Kasey Keller in the 2006 World Cup, and received the starting job in South Africa.