|New York Giants offensive tackle, David Diehl, stepped foot on Croatian soil for the first time on 1st July 2011. David is trying to retrace his roots as his maternal grandfather, Ante Bekavac, is from Lovreć, while his grandmother is from Krk. “It is a great honor to come here. This is my first time in Croatia, searching for my roots. I was in Lovreč, here I am in Split, now I go around to meet my motherland. It was an incredible experience for me, I see where I came from, where my roots are from. I am delighted and proud that I came to Croatia.”|
New York Giants offensive tackle, David Diehl, stepped foot on Croatian soil for the first time today. David is trying to retrace his roots as his maternal grandfather, Ante Bekavac, is from Lovreć, while his grandmother is from Krk.
“It is a great honor to come here. This is my first time in Croatia, searching for my roots. I was in Lovreč, here I am in Split, now I go around to meet my motherland. It was an incredible experience for me, I see where I came from, where my roots are from. I am delighted and proud that I came to Croatia.” David Diehl for Sportske Novosti
Diehl was born and raised in Chicago and played American football at Illinois university. David will never forget his Croatian times in Chicago: “When I was a child we often went to Croatian immigrant clubs. I will never forget the breakfasts. I loved the palačinke.” Growing up watching Toni Kukoč and Dražen Petrović in the NBA, David played basketball years before he ever picked up a football. “Toni Kukoč played a huge part in my life growing up, just like Dražen Petrović. I played basketball, but then I realized that I have a bigger talent for American football.”
The 30 year old Super Bowl champion had time to make an appearance at Poljud to visit Hajduk Split:
“Hajduk is a great club, I know everything about them. When a club is celebrating their hundredth birthday, it’s something really great. I regret that I won’t be able to attend the match with Barcelona, but I have to get back to the states.”
Hajduk chaiman, Hrvoje Maleš, gifted David an XXXL #66 Diehl Hajduk 100th Anniversary jersey.
American football star and the member of the NLF team the New York “Giants” visiting the homeland of his ancestors
David Diehl: Proud to be a Croat
Poljud has a real amplification. The only problem is that it comes from – the wrong football! American football star David Diehl, a member of the NFL team the New York “Giants” has come to visit the homeland of his ancestors. Thirty years old Diehl, who as a an offensive line player (they protect the quarterback, point guard and the central figure of the attack) won the Superbowl in 2007 with the “Giants”, has visited the stadium Poljud with his friend Zoran Mamić.
On that occasion he was given a jersey of the FC “Hajduk” with number 66, which he carries in “Giants” and his surname and “Hajduk” in turn got his club’s jersey. Probably the only Croat who has won the Superbowl as a player was very happy to come to Split and at Poljud Stadium.
- It is an honor and a pleasure to be here. It has long been my great wish. My family originated from Lovreć from where they migrated to the U.S. I enjoyed the sightseeing of Split, but I even more enjoyed visiting “Hajduk” where I was welcomed with opened arms. I could see the stadium, learn about the past of the club… This means a lot to me as a Croatian. The istory of “Hajduk” is a story of pride and a hundred-year struggle for the club. There are very few clubs with such a tradition.
Elsewhere the clubs move, stop existing…. It’s nice to see how much “Hajduk” means to people, how much passion and love they have for it all these years”, Diehl was very impressed, the giant from the “Giants”, 195 cm tall and who weighs 145 kilos. Unfortunately he won’t be able to watch “Hajduk” vs “Barcelona” match, which spoiled a bit his good mood.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to come. I am here till Friday and than I have to go back for the preparations for the next season. Because of the “lockout”, the disagreement between the players and the club owners, concerning the rights and pay, he came to Croatia for the first time.
- This is my ninth season with the “Giants”. In the past years we were usually in a camp preparing for the season. The lockout turned out for me as a real blessing, which made it possible for me to come here.
Diehl’s late father Jerry was half German and half Dutch and his mother Darlene has Dalmatian origins. His grandmother Lucija Šemanić was born in the USA but originally she was from the island of Krk, while his grandfather Ante Bekavac was born in Bekavci village near Lovreć, in Imotski region. Diehl is proud of his Croatian origins which can be seen in the Croatian coat of arms tattooed on his left arm, and the word “neuništiv”, Croatian for indestructible, on his biceps.
- Everyone can see the coat of arms and the word “neuništiv”. When I first came to New York many thought I was German because of my surname.When I started coming to the Croatian community more often, people realized my background.
My father is German and I am proud of my German and Croatian origins, but I was brought up in Chicago where many Croats lived. I know very well what “tambura “is, we used to play soccer tournaments when we were kids and we ate “palačinke” for breakfast….
I was brought up as a Croat and I am proud of it – said Diehl in English but he made everybody laugh when he said “tambura” and “palačinke” in Croatian.
- This has been an incredible experience for me. I’ve always wanted to see where I came from, where my origins are. He is a star in the USA but in Croatia people know little of him.
- In high school I played basketball, I wrestled and I played American football too. Look at me! Could I have done any other sports! It’s a gift. I feel blessed for being what I am and for being able to do this sport, but I never take anything for granted. Every year, every day I try to push myself a step further, to the extreme limits, to become a better player and a better person and thus a better role model for children.
Diehl: I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I’m fifty percent Croatian and fifty percent German. I went to grammar school and High School (Brother Rice) with some Croatian friends. So I have been following Croatian heritage ever since I can remember. That’s why people couldn’t figure out why I have Diehl as my last name and Croatian GRB tattooed on my left arm. I grew up going to St. Jerome’s Croatian Catholic Church with my Grandmother. Her maiden name was Semanic and she was from one of the Croatian islands. I remember going to St. Jerome’s and having palacinke for breakfast. My grandmother married Grandpa who was Ante Bekavac from small village Bekavci near Lovrec in Imotski, Dalmacija, Croatia. My father Jerry who passed away in August was hundred percent German on both sides.