Tim Howard was the star attraction at The Plaza Live Theatre in Downtown Orlando on Monday evening.
The former Blues keeper joined co-hosts Graham Stuart and Darren Griffiths on stage at The Plaza Live in Orlando’s trendy Milk District as he looked back over his glittering career in the company of more than 300 US-based Evertonians.
The evening also saw a surprise for Everton’s Ambassador in the US as Howard was named the inaugural inductee into the Premier League club’s North American hall of fame. The USMNT legend joined Dr David France in picking up a North American All Stars award which recognises players, coaches and managers from the continent that have represented Everton, and also those who have a connection to the Blues and have played in North America, with a shocked Howard being named as the first winner of the prize at an evening held in his honour.
Everton’s 1995 FA Cup winner Graham Stuart agreed with the supporters’ decision to vote Howard as Everton’s first North American All Star.
Howard topped a fan poll to claim the award, finishing ahead of Preki, Brian Quinn and the late Jimmy Gabriel. The four-man shortlist was selected by an advisory committee comprising key supporters’ group figures, members of the Everton Fans’ Forum, fan media, historians and also representation from within Everton Football Club itself.
As well as his record number of Premier League outings, Howard memorably saved two penalties in Everton’s FA Cup semi-final shootout success against his former club Manchester United in 2009 – and even scored for the club, from inside his own half, in a game against Bolton Wanderers in January 2012.
In an hour long Q&A Howard confirmed that Everton is the love of his footballing life and that the Club ‘got under my skin’ within minutes of him walking through the door of the training ground back in 2006.
Great event tonight with @EvertonInUSA, and @DGriffiths65 walked out with my last @Nashville_EFC scarf, haha. Also, big shouts to @TimHowardGK, David France, Graham Stuart and @chrispolanco. Another great night in Orlando. #UTFT #COYB pic.twitter.com/TH19CPEV7B— cleighton baines (@ClayLaSoul) July 27, 2021
The Everton-organised chat show event kicked-off with the renowned author and memorabilia collector Dr David France speaking about his world-famous collection and his lifelong passion for the Blues.
Dr France also spoke about his latest project – the book ‘Toffee Soccer’, which is a forensic look at every facet of the relationship between Everton Football Club and North America.
Copies of the volume were on sale inside the theatre after the event.
Next up on stage were Jurgen Mainka, Executive Liaison for Everton in the USA, and Tony Sampson of the Chicago Evertonians Supporters Club, who is also the international representative on the Everton Fans Forum.
The two guys were quizzed about the potential for growth in the States and how the relationship between the supporters across the Atlantic and the Club is flourishing.
The hugely successfully evening concluded when the legend that is Tim Howard walked on stage to a thunderous reception from the audience.
Tim engaged in an entertaining conversation with Graham and Darren and then took some questions from the floor.
“It was a great night,” said Tim. “I promised Everton Football Club that I would always be here when I’m needed and I love meeting up with the guys.
“We are a special club and we are a family that looks out for each other.”
GOALKEEPER PART OF EVERTON DELEGATION TO VISIT PULSE MEMORIAL
As well as engaging with supporters, Tim Howard formed part of a delegation from Everton Football Club to make an emotional visit to the Pulse Nightclub memorial site in Orlando.
Led by Tim Howard, the Club’s Ambassador in the USA, the Everton party were met by Mayor of Orlando Buddy Dyer, the owner of the memorial site Barbara Poma and Jason Siegel, President & Chief Executive of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission as they toured the site of the former nightclub that was home to Orlando’s LGTBQ+ community prior to the 2016 attack.
The Pulse nightclub memorial has recently been designated as a “national memorial” by US president Joe Biden, in tribute to the 49 people killed and 53 wounded following a mass shooting by a lone gunman on 12 June 2016.
In honour of the fallen angels and victims the former nightclub has been turned into a memorial site with tributes, flowers and murals left by family, friends and well-wishers. The visit was organised as part of Everton’s All Together Now campaign which aims celebrate diversity and promote equality and inclusion.
Tim Howard said: “I know this is something that both the Club and I really wanted to visit while in Orlando. This goes beyond football, beyond our sport and beyond just the US. This is a global atrocity that shook our society and impacted every one of us.
“What has really struck me today is that this memorial, which the president has rightly declared a “national memorial”, is a clear and lasting message that what happened here at Pulse really matters and will never be forgotten.
“I may not be in the UK anymore but being part of the Everton family I have seen the Club’s All Together Now campaign and some of the good work undertaken by the Club which will help us educate people now and in future generations helping show that we will always be able to outlove hate.”
The former Everton and US Men’s National goalkeeper added to the memorial by pinning an Everton shirt and scarf to the fencing and signing “with peace and love, TH” on the wall.
The attack is the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ+ people in the US. It is also the second deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since the September 11 attacks of 2001.