JJ Watt: NFL great is ‘part of family’, says Burnley manager Kompany

Former NFL player JJ Watt

NFL icon JJ Watt has inspired Burnley’s players as they bid to avoid Premier League relegation and is “part of the family”, manager Vincent Kompany has said.

Former Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals defensive end Watt visited the town this week, taking part in events including a trip to a local pub and watching training, having bought a minority stake in the Clarets in 2023.

“His record as an elite player in the NFL speaks for itself,” Kompany told the club, calling Watt’s work in the community “highly admirable”. “He is regularly recognised by his peers as the best at what he does.

“He spent some time with the players and staff at Gawthorpe, sharing his experiences as a leader in his field as a player and as a person.

“He is now part of the Burnley family. JJ has embraced [Burnley] and everything it means. I know from having conversations with him on a regular basis how much he and his family care for this football club.”

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Burnley earned promotion by winning the Championship last season but have endured a difficult campaign after a season out of the top flight, standing above bottom side Sheffield United by virtue of goal difference.

The Blades are the only team with a record as poor as Burnley’s total of three wins from 28 league games and Kompany’s players start their home game against Brentford on Saturday 10 points from safety.

JJ Watt: Burnley ‘frustrating’

Watt has not been shy to publicly voice his opinion on occasion, criticising a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision on Twitter following a 1-1 home draw against Luton Town in January.

Speaking after Burnley spurned a lead to lose to Bournemouth in October, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Watt described the result as “certainly a frustrating one”.

“Our manager runs a very specific style of play,” Watt told the Pat McAfee Show. “It takes guys a while to understand exactly what he is asking and execute it.

“The defence needs to step it up a little bit. Against Bournemouth we went up, they put pressure on and we didn’t handle it very well. I’m hoping we have a bounce back and show some resilience.”

Burnley have kept two clean sheets in 20 matches in all competitions since they succumbed to the Cherries.

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