Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has reaffirmed his desire to retire from football when his current contract at Goodison Park expires.
The 35-year-old has a deal until May 2018 and plans to call it a day after the World Cup in Russia that summer - provided the USMNT qualify of course.
In a wide ranging interview with USA Today Howard was asked whether those plans where 'set in stone', with Howard replying:
My contract in Everton finishes in May, the World Cup is in June, and then I’m going to the beach.
He is currently on a sabbatical from the USA team in order to spend more time with his family, something he says he does not regret and was not motivated by Everton's qualification for the Europa League.
That decision was solely a personal one, and had all to do with my family. It wasn’t a physical issue. I’ve played three or four seasons in Europa League with a full-tilt national team schedule as well, so that’s never been the issue. It was simple a family decision that I took. The fact that there were more games for us in the Europa League wasn’t a factor at all.
Howard also spoke about his motivations as a player and how he keeps going season after season, giving us an insight into his attitude and determination to keep playing, even when carrying injuries.
My career is very important to me, and being successful in that career has been like a drug for me. I wake up every morning and I try to go as hard as I can. I very rarely miss a day of training, I play through injuries. I think that’s what it’s about. For me, I still set some personal goals, yeah, but mostly it’s about trying to play as many games for Everton as I can.
That’s always been my goal, and it still is. And staying fit, too. I think I’m fitter at 35 than I was at 25. I want to maintain that and continue to play at a high level, and when I can’t anymore, that’s that: I’m finished.
Switching back to Everton, Howard stated his confidence that the squad is well equipped to cope with the Europa League this season as well as who has the most influence in the dressing room.
On the team we’re trying not to have egos, or to let anyone get too big, so there was definitely a lot of banter surrounding the whole World Cup and speaking to the president and all that stuff. I take it in stride. It was good to get back with those guys that I spend every day with. I was excited to see them and vice versa.
Our senior players have been around so long, they’ve got the respect of the group. Our captain, Phil Jagielka, is a brilliant captain. Leighton Baines kind of keeps people light, on their toes. It’s been good. It’s been good to bring back Romelu Lukaku who’s young and exciting, he’s a kid at heart. It’s just a good positive vibe.
We’ve got a bunch of good guys who enjoy being together on the road, so it hasn’t been too bad. The manager seems to have found a good rotation, and we’re first in our group, so it’s not really taken its toll. We’ve enjoyed it.
For a player, the more games mean the less you train, so the whistle blows and you go play, and then you recover and get ready for the next one.