07/02/2014 06:09 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

Chuck Hagel Thanks 'Secretary Of Defense' Tim Howard For Heroic World Cup Performance

Defense Department

From one secretary of defense to another, job well done.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel phoned U.S. keeper Tim Howard on Wednesday to thank him for his legendary performance in Tuesday's World Cup game against Belgium. Howard pulled off an astonishing 16 saves despite the 2-1 loss, the most ever recorded for a World Cup game in the last 50 years.

A Wikipedia user briefly edited Howard's online entry to identify him as "Secretary of Defense of the United States of America," and thousands of grateful American fans promptly made the change go viral across the Internet.

The Pentagon released a statement on the call on Wednesday.

"Secretary Hagel congratulated Howard on his record-breaking game and a great run in Brazil. He invited Howard and the entire team to come to the Pentagon later this year. He told Howard that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of defense," it read.

Howard, who plays for Everton in England, also became immortalized in a popular meme that placed his heroic saves into popular culture called #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave. A few examples include Howard saving the Titanic from sinking, saving Mufasa, Simba's father in Disney's "The Lion King," from a stampede, or even saving Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini from the infamous bite of Uruguay player Luis Suarez.

Eager fans even started a White House petition to rename the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. after the U.S. keeper, and another to appoint him secretary of defense.

Asked about the petition on Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest smiled but said that he "didn't have any personnel announcements to make."



Secretaries Of Defense