Legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick proudly showed off his Croatian roots by wearing the flag sewn onto his shirt while coaching the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Belichick sported the Croatian flag below the word ‘Croatia’ on the right side of his half-zip windbreaker.
Bill Belichick is joining more than 200 players and coaches in celebrating their heritage by wearing the Croatian flag on his chest. 🇭🇷 pic.twitter.com/e8d4GGkxGa— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
Belichick’s grandparents, Ivan Bilicic and Marija Barkovic, arrived in the United States from Croatia over 100 years ago.
“My grandfather emigrated and got his citizenship (US) in 1915. My grandfather came over by himself, he was married to Mary (Marija) and came over to work in the coal or steel mills in western Pennsylvania. After two years, Mary decided to come over and look for him. She got on a boat and came to the United States and so they were kind of reunited then and started the family,” Belichick said earlier.
“In my grandmother’s household there was not much English spoken. My dad understood Croatian and my mum learned it very quickly so she loved talking to my grandmother and her brother and other Croatians who would be in the house in Croatian. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what was going on unless someone talked to me in English.
Belichick has visited his grandparent’s homeland with his children.
“We went and visited where my grandparents lived outside of Zagreb in Draganic. So visually we can picture where they grew up and lived. It was important for all of us as it was the first time I did it as well. It was great to experience that with our kids, Stephen has a Croatian tattoo on his arm so he carries it with him.”
Belichick says he is particularly proud of his heritage and this was enhanced in the summer of 2018 when Croatia reached the FIFA World Cup final in Russia.
“I watched them and rooted hard for our team. I wear the jersey when the game is on TV for a little extra support so I am very proud of the soccer team, of the handball team, the water polo team, and certainly great basketball players that have come out of there. I will see if we can find a couple (American) football players from Croatia because I know there are some big, athletic kids there. I am proud of my heritage, it is something that will always resinate with me and I still stay in contact with my cousins and family members and relatives from Croatia. I am very proud of it,” he concluded.
Fly your flag!— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2022
Over the next two weeks, more than 200 players will proudly wear helmet decals of the country or territory’s flag that represents their nationality or cultural heritage. 🌎🌍🌏
Details: https://t.co/QICX7WyaAD pic.twitter.com/5l3kHmaYGK
Belichick is joining more than 200 players and coaches over the next two weeks in an initiative by the NFL by wearing the flag that represents their nationality or cultural heritage.