Tim Howard has dismissed talk that his relationship with Toffees supporters has broken down, insisting he and the fanbase are "one and the same".
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has dismissed talk that his relationship with the club's supporters has broken down, insisting that his bond with the fans remains "brilliant", as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
Howard will leave Goodison Park after a decade this summer to return to his native USA and join MLS side Colorado Rapids at the age of 37.
The former Manchester United man has played more than 400 times in all competitions for the Toffees but lost his place as the club's number one to Spaniard Joel Robles earlier this season.
Prior to Roberto Martinez's decision to promote his former Wigan Athletic goalkeeper to replace Howard, many Everton fans had called for the veteran stopper to be dropped after some inconsistent performances.
That led to speculation that the relationship between Howard and Toffees supporters had deteriorated, but Howard has insisted that his bond with the Goodison Park faithful remains as strong as ever.
The goalkeeper said, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo: "Undoubtedly, yes [it was a hard decision]. You pulled at my heart strings because Everton is my club, it will always be my club because it’s where I’ve always felt at home. Of course, it has been difficult. They’re going to have to pull me off that pitch because it is my home.
"I’ve not spoken publicly about [my relationship with the fans] but the press has decided to run with it. 10 years ago, I started a love affair with this club and it’s supporters. Literally, from day one, they have made me feel like a Blue, they made me feel at home.
"When we lose, they get pissed off, and so do I and when we win we share in that joy. We are one in the same. I would imagine from their end there are no issues and from mine there is neither, that is crazy talk, it has been nothing short of brilliant."
Howard will leave Everton 13th on the list of players to have made the most appearances for the club, and has been a defining figure in the last decade of the Toffees' history.