World Cup 2014: President Barack Obama calls United States stars Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard to congratulate side, and tells goalkeeper to 'shave off your beard'

President Obama gives his advice to the newest cult hero of the World Cup in an attempt to avoid the mobs of adoring fans waiting for his return

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 03 July 2014 09:49
President Barack Obama speaks to Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard
President Barack Obama speaks to Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard

How will Tim Howard avoid being mobbed by the adoring public upon his return to the United States after a starring World Cup performance led to him becoming the latest cult figure of the World Cup? “Shave your beard,” according to President Barack Obama.

The President of the United States called goalkeeper Howard and team captain Clint Dempsey to congratulate them on their efforts in Brazil, just a day after their extra-time defeat in the second round that saw Belgium clinch a 2-1 victory in Salvador.

In a video released by the White House, Obama said: “Clint, Tim. Man I just wanted to call to say you did us proud. You guys did great. There’s someone here who’s first sport was soccer although I was never that good.

“To see the way you guys captured the hearts and imaginations of the whole country is unbelievable and obviously the way the sport has been growing steadily because kids have been playing it at a young age, but this is the first time you have had an entire country focused.

“You guys did us all proud not just by how hard you played and how well you did; you guys just carried yourselves with a lot of class. It makes people really respect the sport and you guys are really great models for a lot of sportsman here in the states.

“I know it is disappointing but what you guys accomplished is really, really significant and it will make a difference to the country so congratulate coach. I know maybe you have got another couple of guys there.”

Howard pulled off a magnificent 16 saves against Belgium to set a new record since the stat started being tracked in 1966. The 35-year-old Everton goalkeeper, who signed a new contract extension in April this year to remain at Goodison Park until 2018, saw himself become the most talked about trend on Twitter on Wednesday, after the hashtag ‘Things Tim Howard could save’ went viral, leading to a number of photoshopped pictures and memes flooding the internet.

President Obama leads a chant of "I believe that we will win"
President Obama watches the World Cup match between the United States and Belgium
President Obama waves an imaginary red card after the a foul during Belgium's win over the US

Obama had advice for the US’s newest hero on how to deal with the mobs of adoring fans, as he told Howard: “Tim, I think I don't know how you are going to survive the mobs when you come back home man. You are going to have to shave your beard so they don't know who you are.”

This is not the first time Obama has found himself caught up in the World Cup hysteria that has swept the US, after he was snapped watching USA’s group game with Germany last week while flying aboard Air Force One at around 40,000 feet.

He also became the head of cheerleading – should he create such a role – after he crashed a White House screening of USA’s defeat to Belgium to lead a chant of “We believe that we will win”, the latest chant to have been made famous by the likes of Obama and actor Will Ferrell.

Obama signed off by inviting the squad to the White House when they return, adding: “Fantastic job everybody and I hope I get to see you guys again at The Whitehouse sometime soon. I’ve still got my jacket that you guys gave me. I appreciate you guys. Safe travels back. Bye bye.”

US President Barack Obama and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (L) watch the 2014 World Cup match between the US and Germany while en route to Minnepolis

Despite the heartbreak of suffering defeat when the Americans had two chances to equalise late on, Howard revealed that he couldn’t elaborate on the sombre mood in the changing room after the match as he was hauled off by Fifa for an immediate drug test.

“I got dragged into drug testing, again, randomly,” Howard told when speaking to ESPN Radio. “So I didn't hear all of [the reactions].”

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