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Former NFL star JJ Watt reveals why he invested in Burnley and praises ‘great leader’ Vincent Kompany as he insists he is ‘deeply passionate’ about the club’s success of the Premier League.

Former NFL star JJ Watt has explained why he decided to invest in Premier League club Burnley last year.

Watt, 35, who played 12 seasons in the NFL before retiring in 2023, became a minority investor alongside his wife Kealia – a former professional footballer – last May as the club secured promotion to Premier League.

Appearing on the Stick to Football podcast alongside Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane, Ian Wright and Jill Scott, Watt – who previously admitted he was a Chelsea fan – explained what attracted him to Burnley .

“I knew I wanted to be an owner after my career, so in the last two years of my career I started looking for opportunities, both in America and here (in the UK),” he said. he declares.

“I love football, I really do. I’ve been watching the Premier League since 2010-11, I’ve looked at a few clubs and someone said to me you should talk to Burnley. I went up and visited, met everyone, with Vincent (Kompany), saw the city and it seemed good to me.

Former NFL star JJ Watt (centre) and his wife Kealia (left) became minority investors in Burnley last year

Watt revealed he was convinced to invest after visiting the club and meeting manager Vincent Kompany.

Watt revealed he was convinced to invest after visiting the club and meeting manager Vincent Kompany.

“I’m from Wisconsin, Green Bay is not a big city but it’s a city that loves and cares about its people and its team, and I could say that Burnley lives and dies on every kick of the ball, so It seemed good to me.

Burnley won the league title under Vincent Kompany last season but found things tougher on their return to the top flight.

They have just four league wins all season and are currently six points from safety with six games remaining.

It has proven to be a difficult year for Kompany in his first campaign as a Premier League manager, but Watt has no doubts about his qualifications to succeed at the highest level in the dugout.

“Vincent Kompany is a great leader,” Watt said. “I think the way he commands respect from the players is due to his knowledge.

“Also, he’s a brilliant man, he speaks six or seven languages, so to see him come out of training and he’s talking to (David) Fofana in one language and he’s talking to (Lorenz) Assignon in another language – he just moves seamlessly between these guys and it’s amazing.

“And then he also keeps a cool head. But throughout the season, even when things didn’t go the way we wanted, just the mindset and the ability to get the players moving – it’s been nice.

Watt praised Kompany for his leadership skills, despite Burnley's struggles this season

Watt praised Kompany for his leadership skills, despite Burnley’s struggles this season

Kompany led Burnley to Championship glory last season, and Watt described him as a “brilliant man”.

Kompany led Burnley to Championship glory last season, and Watt described him as a “brilliant man”.

Watt joined Burnley’s open-top bus parade last year following their promotion, although the event took place just days after his investment was made.

His decision to lead the celebrations led to some skepticism that he would only be interested in getting involved when things were going well and that he might choose to turn his back on the club during tougher times.

Watt admits he felt guilty about the bus parade celebrations but insisted he would be in it for the long haul and was determined to bring continued success to Burnley.

He also revealed that the club had already started planning for the Championship to ensure they were well prepared to mount another promotion should their relegation from the Premier League be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Watt added: “Last year we won the championship about two months after I arrived (at Burnley), and Alan (Pace), our majority owner, looks at me and says: ‘You’re carrying the trophy on the pitch’ . And I was like, “Alan, these people are going to boo me off the field! I’m the student who showed up to the project and didn’t do anything!”

“But it was the coolest day (winning the league). We did the bus parade and everything. Knowing that day and always having it in mind, that’s the one thing I want back for these people – what it feels like.

Reaffirming his commitment to the club, he continued: “I can’t explain how deeply passionate I am about this project (the Burnley project), and I knew I was going to do it, but I didn’t realized at that level, how much I would care and love interacting with these people.

“Even when I’m not here, and I’m in Arizona, waking up at four in the morning for a game, it’s really over. My son is only 18 months old, but he is screaming at the TV because his dad threw a coffee cup across the living room.

Watt is a former NFL star and still possesses that competitive edge, with the American insisting he is desperate to bring success to Burnley.

Watt is a former NFL star and still possesses that competitive edge, with the American insisting he is desperate to bring success to Burnley.

“It would be naive of us not to plan for both scenarios (staying in the Premier League or going down to the Championship), of course yeah. So in our board meetings, in all our discussions, we talk about this what each scenario would look like.

“It’s so funny because every game I post about Burnley and everything. And every post there will be someone who says: ‘Oh yeah, we’ll see where you are next year when you’re in Championship. I bet you won’t attend any Championship matches.”

“I’m like, A, I went to four league games last year, B, I’m not an investor who’s like, ‘oh, I’ll only be there for the Premier League’ – like, I’m there for the fight.

“I’m an athlete, I’m part of this club now and I want to be there for that. I’m going to be there in the Championship, fighting to get back up. You can’t jump ship just because the team isn’t going earn.

JJ Watt was speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, presented by Sky bet

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