Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard said he was not fazed when he received a phone call from U.S. president Barack Obama -- because facing an angry Sir Alex Ferguson was far more frightening.
Howard was an outstanding performer for the United States at the World Cup in Brazil. He produced his best display with a series of great saves in his team's 2-1 loss to Belgium on July 1 in the round of 16.
President Obama called both Howard and captain Clint Dempsey after the match to show his appreciation for their efforts.
The 35-year-old keeper said he felt that was the moment football had really made it as a major sport in the U.S.
But asked if it were more nerve-wracking to take that phone call or deal with Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford, the former Manchester United keeper had no doubt.
"Probably going into the dressing room," he told British newspapers. "The president's not going to yell at me. If David Moyes or Ferguson yells at you, it's the worst thing in the world."
Recalling how the phone call came about, Howard said: "It was set up. You just get a knock on your door from the team administrator, who says: 'Right, downstairs in five minutes.' And you just go. There's not much else to do or say. And you try not to say anything stupid because you know that if you do, then forever it'll be: 'You said something dumb to the President.' You don't want to do that.
"It was a big moment. That certainly lets you know soccer's arrived in the States and that what you as a team did captivated people. The President doesn't ring people out of the blue, so you know you've done something well."
Moyes, who followed Ferguson for a 10-month spell as United boss before being sacked in April 2014, was the manager who took Howard from United to Everton in 2006, initially on loan.
The keeper, by his own admission, did not make a success of his three years at Old Trafford but is grateful to Ferguson, Moyes and current Everton boss Roberto Martinez for their help in guiding his career.
"Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the best managers in football history. Just because my time there didn't work out, it doesn't make him any less of a manager," Howard said. "David Moyes is someone I'm forever indebted to. Roberto and I have this absolutely incredible connection from Day 1. I don't know if it's because I'm older and we're closer in age than I've ever been with a manager before.
"I really do feel each of them have played such a huge part in my career. David Moyes was one who, at a certain crossroads in my career, he was there. And since then, I've kicked on. That's why he played such a big role in my career."