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Tim Howard Gives 'All Praise to God' for Amazing World Cup Performance

( [email protected] ) Jul 03, 2014 03:24 PM EDT

Tim Howard
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard makes a flying save (Photo: ESPN)

Although Team USA's lost to Belgium on Tuesday, American goalkeeper Tim Howard wowed viewers with a record 16 saves. Following his incredible performance, Howard was instantly propelled to further fame as millions of fans took Twitter,comparing the goalie to Jesus Christ-someone the soccer player calls a key figure in his life.

"The most important thing in my life is Christ," Howard declared in an interview with Campus Crusade for Christ. "He's more important to me than winning or losing or whether I'm playing or not. Everything else is just a bonus. All praise be to God."

Howard also volunteered with his church youth group while signed to Manchester United - playing football with local young people and joining them for Bible studies, HuffPost reports. When he's not on the field, the athlete attends regularly volunteers with Christian organizations like the L8r Club, a youth group at Bramhall Baptist Church in the United Kingdom.

"The best time for me is when I see a breakthrough in them," he told Christianity Today. "To see them get a grasp of what God and Christ really mean."

But the soccer star hasn't always had it easy, finding faith after experiencing a personal trial.

At the age of 11, Howard was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.

 Devastated, he turned to his Christian grandmother to find strength. Because of her example, Howard soon came to know the Lord.

"Through her, God revealed His love for me as well. It wasn't long before I was following in her footsteps. I wanted the same kind of faith and peace she had, and that is exactly what God gave me," the athlete revealed.

Howard soon came to discover that the challenge of living with a neurological disorder was offset by his natural skill at soccer.

"Living with Tourette's is not easy. But God has blessed me with the gift of athleticism as well. He has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of these 2 gifts. He also has shown me ways to use my position as a professional athlete to encourage others with Tourette's syndrome."

Despite his celebrity, Howard stays humble and grounded, finding his identity in Christ rather than in his athletic ability.

"Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace," the player concludes.

"That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that's the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding."