NFL hero JJ Watt and his wife, former United States international Kealia, have invested in English football team Burnley after being inspired by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney's work with Wrexham.
Burnley, coached by Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany, have already secured promotion to the English Premier League and the power couple will be attending the team's game on Wednesday night against Cardiff. They previously went to Burnley's 3-0 home victory against Wigan on March 11 at Turf Moor.
An amusing video of the two announcing the investment was also shared on social media - where Watt jokes he is not trying to copy Ryan Reynolds and his investment in Wrexham. The 34-year-old later admitted he has taken advice from Reynolds and McElhenney on how to make a success of his involvement with Burnley.
In a joint statement, the couple said: 'When you invest in a club that’s been around since 1882, you must have great respect for its history and tradition.
'We understand that not only are we investing in the squad and manager, we’re investing in the town and its people. We take that responsibility very seriously and intend to work hard in earning their trust and support.
JJ Watt and his wife Kealie have invested in Burnley ahead of their Premier League return
The couple have vowed to grow the global profile of the team as part of the partnership
Coach Vincent Kompany has guided Burnley back to the Premier League for next season
'We have such great respect for what has been built here by Alan (Pace, Burnley chairman), Vincent and the entire organization and are looking forward to working with them.
'We believe that Burnley is a special club with incredible supporters and we want to help continue to elevate its global profile on its return to the Premier League.'
In the video footage, Watt jokes: 'I've only been retired four months now and I really need something to do. I just love football - not that kind. In these isles (pointing at a map of Britain), they play football with their feet.
'We are going to invest in European football. We don't have 'buy an entire European football club' kind of money, we are more along the lines of minority investment but massive emotional investment.
'So America, allow us to introduce you to Burnley. Welcome to the Premier League.'
A voice off-camera asks if they are trying to copy Reynolds and McElhenney - to which JJ Watt replied 'no' while his wife jokes: 'Yes!'
Hollywood A-Lister Reynolds invested in minor Welsh team Wrexham alongside fellow actor McElhenney. Wrexham recently won promotion to the fourth tier of English soccer and received global fame through their Netflix documentary 'Welcome to Wrexham'.
Watt and his wife later made an appearance on English sport show Sky Sports News, where they were asked again about the comparison.
The Watts were inspired by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney's involvement with Wrexham
The 'Welcome to Wrexham' documentary has seen the Welsh club's popularity spiral
'We watched the documentary on and it was so cool to see what they've done,' Kealia said. 'That's kind of what we are modelling this after. Wrexham is such a fun team and we have followed that.'
Watt admitted he has discussed the investment with Reynolds and McElhenney.
'I spoke to Rob about his experience and tried to gain some insight into what he's done,' he said. 'And I've spoken to Ryan and tried to get his ideas about what has worked and what hasn't.
'Obviously it is a different league and a different situation but they have done an incredible job. Our goal is to come in and get involved in the community, to really feel like the supporters.
'We want to earn their trust and help tell their story to America and beyond. We want people to know about the Clarets.'
Watt retired from the NFL last year after 12 seasons. He is a three-time defensive player of the year and widely tipped as a future hall-of-famer. In 2021, Forbes ranked his estimated wealth at $34.5m (27million pounds).
His wife Kealia played three times for the United States women's team and has underlined her desire to elevate the growth of the women's team at Burnley.
'In the US, I’ve seen the NWSL grow into something really incredible, and we’d love to be a part of growing the women’s team here and be a part of their journey,' she said.
JJ Watt, 34, recently retired from NFL at the end of last season with the Arizona Cardinals
Watt, pictured with Kealia and their child Koa on his last ever game as an NFL player
Burnley chairman Alan Pace added: 'We’re absolutely delighted to welcome JJ and Kealia into the Clarets family.
'This is a conversation that has been happening for some time and over the course of this season we’ve been hugely impressed by their passion and interest in both the club and the Burnley community. I am very much looking forward to working with them.
'Both JJ and Kealia bring with them an incredible amount of top-level sporting pedigree and success, as well as ideas and connections that will be invaluable in helping us to continue telling the Clarets story to an international audience.'
Watt announced in January that we was going to retire from the NFL at the end of the season with the Arziona Cardinals.
'It just feels like a good time,' the 34-year-old said. 'I want to leave while I’m playing good football, while I’m proud of the film I’m putting out. I want people to remember me for playing good ball, not for getting knocked on my ass.'
There are, however, concerns that Burnley's impressive coach Kompany could leave the team at the end of the season.
He has been linked with the Tottenham job after an impressive first season at Watt's new team.
As a player, Kompany won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups with Manchester City.
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