Chuck Hagel is used to calling defense ministers from around the world but on Wednesday he rang up Tim Howard, the goalie for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, who’s gained the nickname US Secretary of Defense after yesterday’s game.
Defense Secretary Hagel called Howard following the goalie’s record-setting performance in the 2-1 loss to Belgium that knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup.
In a readout of the phone call, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel called Howard “to thank him for defending the United States of America at the World Cup.”
Hagel also took the opportunity to congratulate Howard on the 16 saves in yesterday’s match, the most in World Cup play since 1966, as well as “a great run” in the tournament.
The Defense secretary invited Howard and the entire U.S. team to the Pentagon later this year.
According to Kirby, Hagel told Howard “that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of defense.”
A tweet from the Pentagon’s official Twitter account played up the call “from 1 SecDef to another: Hagel calls @timhowardgk to say thanks for defending USA. We (USA) are the proud of @ussoccer!”