Former NFL star JJ Watt and his wife Kealia, a former three-time international striker for the United States, announced their investment in Burnley ahead of the club’s return to the Premier League.
JJ represented the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals in a distinguished career in which he won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards, while Kealia represented the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars.
Kealia still holds the record for scoring the fastest goal by any newcomer to the women’s team, doing so after 48 seconds in October 2016 against Switzerland in a friendly in Minneapolis.
The couple, who have spent time at Burnley and in the local community recently, attended the club’s 3-0 win over Wigan in March and confirmed their formal engagement to the Clarets on Monday.
“When you invest in a club that has been around since 1882, you must have great respect for its history and tradition,” the couple said in a statement.
“We understand that we are not only investing in the team and the coach, we are investing in the city and its people.
“We take that responsibility very seriously and intend to work hard to earn your trust and support.
“We believe Burnley is a special club with an incredible fan base and we want to help continue to raise their global profile as they return to the Premier League.”
Burnley have approved an immediate return to the English top flight after last season’s relegation by clinching the Sky Bet Championship title.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome JJ and Kealia to the Clarets family,” Burnley chairman Alan Pace said.
“Both JJ and Kealia bring with them an incredible amount of success and top-level sporting pedigree, as well as insights and connections that will be invaluable in helping us continue to tell the story of the Clarets to an international audience.”
Kealia is also looking to help Burnley’s women’s side, who sit in the third-tier FA Women’s National League North division and had their first outing at Turf Moor on Sunday.
“In the US, I have seen the NWSL become something truly amazing, and we would love to be a part of the growth of the women’s team here and be a part of their journey,” added Kealia.
The couple revealed that they were influenced by Wrexham’s Hollywood owners, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, and JJ spoke to both.
Kealia told Sky Sports News: “We’ve always been huge football fans. My husband used to be a Chelsea fan and I grew up an Arsenal fan.
“We went to Burnley, we visited the city and we just fell in love. It’s an incredible place.
“What Vincent (Kompany) has done with his team is incredible and we can’t wait to see the (next) season.”
JJ said: “This is about the opportunity to make an impact at the club.”
When asked if they’ve been influenced by Reynolds and McElhenney, Kealia added: “Definitely. We saw the documentary a couple of months ago and it was great to see what they’ve done. That’s some of what we’re modeling after.
“They are just amazing. Wrexham are a really fun team and we’ve followed that.”
JJ said: “I spoke to Rob about his experience and tried to get some insight into what he’s done.
“And I talked to Ryan and tried to get his ideas and what worked and what didn’t. Obviously they’re in a different league and in a different situation to what Wrexham is doing, but they’ve done an amazing job.”