Tim Howard insists he will remain an Evertonian for life following confirmation that after 10 years at Goodison he is to join Colorado Rapids in MLS at the end of this season.
The 37-year-old USA international goalkeeper will become a Designated Player for the Rapids in MLS’s Secondary Transfer Window on July 4, bringing to a close a career in England which has seen him make a Club-record 352 Premier League appearances for Everton.
In total, he has made 412 appearances for the Club, with Roberto Martinez paying tribute to “his influence and the way he sets standards”, and Howard is to assume an informal ambassadorial role for Everton when he embarks on the next chapter in his career.
“I will remain an Evertonian for life. This will always be my team, my Club,” he said.
“I sacrificed so much to play the amount of games I have over a 10-year period, so I will continue to support this Club that I love.
“The Club is amazing, I love it and I will always be an Everton player.
“I have been at Everton 10 years and it’s been a brilliant 10 years. I spoke to my family, I spoke to Roberto and I spoke to the Chairman, Bill Kenwright. We had really great discussions and we all felt this was the right move and the right time. They supported my decision, they have always been 100% committed to me and they appreciated the fact that it’s time for me to go back home and play my football.
“There are a few more months left which I am excited about because I realise it’s now coming to an end, so I will get my head down and enjoy the remaining time.
“I will miss it a lot. This is home. I grew up here. To stay 10 years in any place is a long time and this has become without doubt my family. You see the same faces every day and you have respect for them, you have love for them and a great working relationship. And because this is home, of course I will miss it, but I’m excited about my move to Colorado Rapids and continuing my career with them.”
Manager Martinez identified Howard’s “incredible character” and “influence on young players” as defining features of his decade at Goodison.
“Tim is such an incredible character,” he said. “With certain players, their contribution goes a little bit further than starting in the team or not and Tim is probably the perfect case of that.
“He is such an influence on the young players. We had a really good group of young players coming through in the last three years and Tim has been a vital player in helping those players feel Everton and to understand what it takes to play in the team.
“In a pure goalkeeping sense his level three seasons ago when we reached the Club record Premier League points tally was one of the best seasons we have had. From that point on, Tim has always helped Joel Robles and he has introduced him to what it takes to play for Everton.
“His contribution over the last 10 years has been very consistent and his figures reflect that - the amount of clean sheets he has achieved in the Premier League, the amount of games he has played. He will always be remembered and the figures will be given a bigger respect once he is gone and we all look back at his achievements.
“We want him to open the new chapter knowing Everton is part of his life.
"We have got a lifelong ambassador for our football club in the USA. We have a large following and a big Everton community in the USA because they were introduced to us through Tim Howard. He has been the most significant ambassador we had in America. Now we will have an Evertonian playing in the MLS and he will carry the name of Everton wherever he goes.
“He has a huge amount of experience and he has still got some very good years to come. His ambition still burns strong to represent USA in the next World Cup.
“For us now, it is time to thank him, have a celebration and show how much we appreciate him and how thankful we are of his role in these last 10 seasons.
“The modern game doesn’t allow you to have that loyalty or that continuity. When you are coming from another country it makes it even harder. The consistency in his character allows him to perform consistently and, as a performer, it will be difficult to find another as consistent as he is.
“Tim was very keen to be able to be close to his children and he feels it’s the right time to go back home and start a new chapter.”
Howard's total of 115 clean sheets with Everton is the fourth highest in the Premier League with a single club.
His 131 career clean sheets in the Premier League from 392 games is the ninth highest among goalkeepers.
In the 2008/09 season he set a Premier League record for an Everton goalkeeper of 17 clean sheets in one season.
His total of 210 successive league games between September 2007 and March 2013 set a Premier League record for one club and fell only two short of the Club record in all league games set by Neville Southall.
It remains the second longest run of successive games in Premier League history by any player.