When U.S. National team star goalkeeper Tim Howard joined Everton FC from Manchester United three years ago, he knew he was coming to a club that had been home to some of soccer's legendary players, guys like Neville Southall, regarded as one of the finest keepers in English soccer history, and 1966 England World Cup winners Ray Wilson and Alan Ball.
But at the time, Howard didn't fully appreciate just how many legends had donned the blue jersey of Everton FC.
"This is my fourth season at Everton, and as the years have gone on, I've been amazed at certain players who have played for Everton down the years, which I didn't know upon my arrival," said Howard. "And it blows me away how many legendary players did pull on the same shirt that I'm wearing. It's humbling. It's motivational. I really do love playing for Everton."
Howard and Everton will ride into town this week for Wednesday evening's MLS All-Star game at Rio Tinto Stadium, and while the Liverpool-based club may not have the name recognition or brand appeal of England's so-called "Big 4 clubs" (Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Arsenal,) it's a club filled with as rich of a history as anyone.
Anchored by star players and driven forward with a workmanlike mentality, Everton FC has won the English league championship nine times in its history, fourth in the country to Man. United (18), Liverpool (18) and Arsenal (13).
Everton's last title came in 1987, but while the club has endured several ups and downs over the past two decades, it's come back towards the top of the Premier League table in recent years.
Under the guidance of 46-year-old manager David Moyes, who's widely regarded as one of the best up-and-coming managers in Europe, Everton has qualified for European competition in three of the past four years, despite not having the financial resources of clubs like Manchester United or Chelsea.
Indeed, accomplishing things with grit and determination has been a hallmark of Everton FC throughout its history.
When Moyes joined Everton in 2002, he proclaimed it to be the "people's football club" in a city that features one of the world's biggest clubs, Liverpool FC.
While discussing the famous Everton players of years gone by, Howard echoed those sentiments.
"The biggest thing about it is it's a working man's club," said Howard. "A lot of these (former) players come back and aren't there for the limelight, (but) they're there supporting the club like everyone else does. It's really special. It's a special part of the club.
"There's not a lot of big-time arrogant stuff. It's a real hard-working club. All the players have a lot of respect for that and appreciate that and continue to act that way."
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