KENYA BROWN - Friday, April 18, 2014
United States national team goalkeeper Tim Howard has signed a two-year contract extension with English Premier League side Everton, the team announced on their official website on Thursday.

The deal will see the shot-stopper remain at Goodison Park until 2018.

The New Jersey native has been one of the critical players in head coach Roberto Martinez's side as the Toffees remain on the heels of Arsenal for the coveted fourth place spot in the standings, which will guarantee them a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Howard, who originally went to Everton on a loan deal from Manchester United in 2006 before signing permanently with the team a year later, had signed a contract that was set to expire in 2016.

The news of Howard's contract extension was music to the ears of Martinez, who had brought in young Spanish goalkeeper Joel Robles prior to the start of this season to challenge the long-serving Everton keeper.

"He has been vital to our overall achievements. It's not just about his performances," he told EvertonTV.

"As a goalkeeper, you have a big say about what happens in your own goal and to keep the amount of clean sheets that we have this season - which is already two more than last season when we had very good numbers defensively - is impressive."

Martinez added that Howard has also been a great influence off the field.

"Then you see his human values and the way he affects youngsters. He is the perfect role model for our football club. We have a good group of young goalkeepers who can follow that sort of example, and that is why it's so significant he has agreed to stay with Everton for a long, long period," he said.

Howard's contract extension will now give him the chance to reach 500 EPL appearances - a feat accomplished by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Sol Campbell, Frank Lampard and the late Gary Speed.