Howard finds way to United

United States goalkeeper Tim Howard has signed a four-year contract with Manchester United FC.

United States goalkeeper Tim Howard has secured a dream move to Manchester United FC from New York/New Jersey MetroStars, signing a four-year deal with the English champions for an initial fee of €1.7m.

Barthez rival
The 24-year-old, who made his debut for the US in March 2002, was unveiled this afternoon after being granted a work permit. Howard will join his new club on their American tour later this month, and should feature as regular No1 Fabien Barthez will not be travelling. "I just feel blessed," Howard said. "I feel fortunate. Not many people are given this opportunity, which has been given to me. I am just so happy."

High praise
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "He's big and he's quick like [former United goalkeeper Peter] Schmeichel and seems to have a presence about him in goal. If you have speed and are big like Schmeichel was, then you have massive assets as a goalkeeper. We'll see now how Tim develops. There is plenty of time for him."

Great season
Howard, who suffers from the neurological disorder Tourette's Syndrome, has been in impressive form in the 2003 Major League Soccer season and was selected to play in the league's All-Star game. MetroStars coach Bob Bradley said: "Ideally, Timmy would have finished the season with the MetroStars and moved on to Manchester United, but the timing is out of our control and we recognise that this is a well-deserved opportunity in his career."

Four friendlies
United's US tour takes place later this month and will see them play four matches. They start against Celtic FC in Seattle on 22 July, before taking on Mexican side Club América in Los Angeles five days later. On 31 July, they meet Juventus FC in New Jersey and finish their tour on 3 August against FC Barcelona in Philadelphia.