Belichick feted in Croatia, meets with soccer team

Bill Belichick has taken the time he would normally be coaching in the NFL to visit Croatia, where in recent days he met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović, and received a Croatian certificate of nationality.

Belichick also attended the Croatian national soccer team’s 3-0 win over North Macedonia on Monday, and later met with the team, which posted pictures of his visit on X.

This marks the first time since 1975 that Belichick — who won six Super Bowl championships as coach of the New England Patriots and two others as a New York Giants assistant — isn’t coaching in the NFL. The Patriots and Belichick parted ways in January after 24 seasons.

In recent years, Belichick often wore a Croatian pin to news conferences, as well as a patch on his sideline apparel as part an NFL initiative. He also wore a Croatian necktie at times to postgame news conferences.

As part of his visit with the Croatian national soccer team, Belichick explained his Croatian roots.

“My grandparents came to the USA in 1910 from Draganić and had a difficult life, but that’s why my father [Steve], also an American football coach, managed to live his American dream,” he said, according to a report from the newspaper Večernji. “Yesterday, I became a Croatian citizen. Now I’m one of you.”

Belichick has been celebrated for his accomplishments during his trip to Croatia, which was sparked by an invitation from television producer Pete Radovich as part of the upcoming Sunset Sports Media Festival.

In his meeting with Milanović, Belichick was honored with the Order of the Croatian Star featuring the effigy of Franjo Bučar — an esteemed recognition for promoting the reputation and interests of Croatia over his career.

While Belichick won’t be coaching in the NFL this season, he still plans to be connected to the game. For one, he has agreed to be a weekly guest on the “ManningCast” for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

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