Irish captain Robbie Keane made a special trip to the White House on Tuesday, where he rubbed shoulders with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Keane joined his LA Galaxy teammates in Washington DC for a special reception to mark their success as 2011 Major League Soccer champions, whom he described as the “Miami Heat” of soccer.
But the president's praise of Keane was dubbed stereotypical by some Irish, who described his comments as “superficial and twee”.
During his address, Obama spoke about the Dublin player’s success since he joined the team and even joked that the Tallaght man was “a cousin of mine”.
"Robbie arrived halfway through last season, scored his first goal in the first 21 minutes of his first game. His teammates were so happy to have him that they filled his locker with what they called the 'pleasures of Ireland' -- Guinness, Baileys, and Irish Spring."
"Hopefully Robbie has broadened their horizons a little bit since then,” Obama added.
While Obama’s comments provoked laughter from the audience, some commenters on the Irish Independent’s website were not amused.
“Obama has twice as much English ancestry as he does Irish - yet he didn't mention that Beckham is twice as likely to be his 'cousin'. Another ridiculous attempt to suck up to the Irish-loving American middle class. I wish he wouldn't exploit Ireland and its people in that way; if he means it (like Kennedy) then fair enough, but I know that he doesn't (sic),” a user named Craig D stated.
Dan Quailsegg said: “Election year once more. Time to bang the drum for Irish votes and football loving foreigners (sic)”.
The president also singled out David Beckham, a former England captain, describing how he defied injury to lead the team to glory.
"He is tough. In fact, it is a rare man who can be that tough on the field and also have his own line of underwear. David Beckham is that man," he laughed.
Afterwards, Robbie’s wife, Claudine Keane tweeted, "Amazing response to Rob meeting
@BarackObama in The White House today. He asked me to Thank You All for your kind words!”