J.J. Watt and his wife, former NWSL player Kealia Watt, became minority owners in the English football club Burnley this week, he and the team announced Monday.
“When you invest in a club that’s been around since 1882, you must have great respect for its history and tradition," J.J. Watt said. "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.”
It's another big moment for Watt, who announced his retirement from the NFL at the end of the 2022 season following a 12-year career with the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals. Kealia played in the NWSL from 2014 to 2021 with the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars. She also played for the USWNT in 2016. The couple married in 2020 and welcomed their son, Koa, this past October.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) May 1, 2023
In a 2021 interview, Watt said he became a fan of English football when he played the FIFA video game and eventually started to follow and support Chelsea.
“It was the songs, the traditions — vastly different than an American stadium, vastly different than an American fan experience," Watt said in 2021. “No big video boards, no commercialism, no cheerleaders. There’s no extra thrills or anything. It was literally just about the game.”
Kealia, meanwhile, has been part of the soccer community her whole life.
“In the U.S., I’ve seen the NWSL grow into something really incredible," she said via the Burnley team website, "and we’d love to be a part of growing the women’s team here and be a part of their journey.”
As for Burnley, it's headed to the English Premier League after it finished at the top of the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football, with 98 points.
The squad broke a Championship record after it secured promotion with seven matches left in the season and won 10 league matches in a row — which tied a league record. The Clarets are managed by former Manchester City and Belgium national team star Vincent Kompany and play about four hours northwest of London.