All over the world, there are millions of young children who want to follow in their parents’ footsteps when they grow up, and it seems in football there is no difference.
Some players, such as Kasper Schmeichel or Daley Blind, have done well to manage the pressure their family name brings, as the former helped his Leicester City side win the Premier League in 2016 and FA Cup in 2021.
But across Europe, there is a new batch of players, fathered by some of football’s greatest, who are trying to make their name in the sport while juggling the pressure of their father’s success.
While some are performing better than others, all still have a long way to go in their careers.
Here are 19 footballers currently playing in Europe, looking to follow in the footsteps of their fathers.
Father: Patrick Kluivert
Following in the footsteps of his father Patrick, Justin Kluivert came through the academy at Ajax.
Having made his first-team debut in 2017, the Dutchman played 56 times for Ajax in all competitions, scoring 13 goals.
The 24-year-old’s form earned him a place in the Netherlands squad in 2018 where he went on to earn his first cap against Portugal, and in turn, making the Kluiverts the first teenager father-son debutants in Netherlands’ history.
Justin and Patrick Kluivert are the tenth father/son debutants in the history of the Netherlands national team.
Patrick: 18 years and 138 days old.
Justin: 18 years and 325 days old.
The first to do it as teenagers. 🇳🇱 pic.twitter.com/fbKIg6U5Pc
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 26, 2018
Kluivert made a move to Italian giants A.S. Roma during the 2018 summer transfer window for £15.16m although his progress has stagnated slightly, spending time on loan at Valencia, and before that at Nice. He’s now plying his trade at Bournemouth.
A former Ajax and Barcelona striker, Patrick Kluivert is widely regarded as a football icon in the Netherlands and around the world, scoring 199 club career goals, while winning titles in Spain and the Netherlands, including the Champions League with Ajax in 1995.
Club: Inter Milan
Father: Lilian Thuram
Son of Lilian Thuram, Marcus is currently playing in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach and is one of the most important attackers in the club.
The 26-year-old joined the German side after suffering relegation with Guingamp in 2019, putting that spell in France firmly behind him, netting 44 goals in 134 appearances before joining Inter this summer.
A French legend, Lilian Thuram retired as the most-capped player in the history of the France national team with 142 appearances between 1994 and 2008, winning the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships.
The defender spent a large part of his club career playing in Italy with Parma – where his son Marcus was born – and then Juventus.
But Marcus has felt no pressure from who his father is, saying in 2019: “No, never, because I saw my dad as my dad, not as the soccer player.
“That’s you and others who see Lilian Thuram, but I see my dad.”
Father: Lilian Thuram
Another one? A bit closer in positioning to dad Lilian, Khephren Thuram has been a mainstay of Nice’s side, the holding man in the midfield. Like Lilian, Khephren started his professional career with Monaco, but played just three times before joining Nice in 2019.
Things have been going a lot better for Khephren at Nice, with over 100 appearances so far, and he is one of the most highly-rated young players in Europe. In the March international break, Khephren earned his first call-up to France’s senior team, alongside older brother Marcus – with Lilian posting a nice moment of them driving off to the training camp.
Father: Zinedine Zidane
One of four sons of Zinedine Zidane, all of whom have followed their father into football, Enzo Zidane (formerly known as Enzo Fernandez) is currently trying to make a name for himself away from Real Madrid — where his career started.
Signed by Swiss club FC Lausanne-Sport from Alaves in January 2018, Enzo spent the following season on loan with CF Rayo Majadahonda. Further spells at Aves and Almeria have followed, with Fernandez then calling French club Rodez his home before joining third-tier Spanish outfit Fuenlabrada.
The other three of Zidane’s sons — Luca, Theo and Elyaz — have all been on the books at Real Madrid, although Luca – a goalkeeper – is now at Eibar.
However good the quartet turn out to be, they will have a hard time living up to the Zidane name, with Zinedine widely regarded as one of the best footballers ever to grace the game.
Father: George Weah
Having grown up in the United States, Timothy Weah moved to France in 2014, playing for the Paris Saint-Germain youth team before signing with the first-team three years later.
Playing mostly for the club’s reserves and youth sides, the 23-year-old forward made his first-team debut in March 2018, coming off the bench in a 2-0 win over Troyes and scored his first goal for the club in the Trophee des Champions against Monaco. He also received his first senior call-up to the USMNT in the same month.
The teenager spent the second half of the 2018/19 season on loan with Celtic, where he scored four goals in 17 matches, but that wasn’t enough for PSG to keep faith in his ability, selling him to fellow Ligue 1 side Lille in the summer of 2019 where he eventually became a champion.
21st August 1992: George Weah scores his first Ligue 1 goal for PSG.
12th August 2018: Timothy Weah scores his first Ligue 1 goal for PSG.
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) August 12, 2018
Now President of Liberia, George Weah made his name as a centre-forward with PSG, winning all that was on offer domestically, as well as the 1995 Ballon d’Or.
Father: Diego Simeone
Giovanni Simeone is showing the potential to be a top-flight European striker, despite a tough 2018/19 campaign which saw him score just eight goals in 40 appearances for Fiorentina.
The 28-year-old has thrived elsewhere, netting 10+ goals at Genoa and Cagliari while he bagged 17 in 35 Serie A games for Hellas Verona. Two seasons ago it was nine in 766 minutes as Giovanni deals with a substitute role at Napoli, but he scored four goals in the Champions League and ended the campaign with the Serie A trophy.
In the past, Giovanni has been linked with Atletico Madrid, who are managed by father Diego Simeone, although El Cholo hasn’t exactly warmed to the idea.
“My son has everything to play under me, but I will never sign him,” Diego said in September 2018.
“Unfortunately, I’m never going to sign him for my team, I never want to totally rule the possibility out on one hand but it would be very difficult to have a son in the locker room.
“It would be difficult for him, for me, for the relationship…and besides, right now he is doing great, maybe one day I’m not at Atletico, maybe he can come.”
Club: Alavés (on loan from Rangers)
Father: Gheorghe Hagi
Ianis Hagi started his career at Romanian side Farul Constanta — managed (and owned) by father Gheorghe Hagi — before joining Genk in 2019, with a short spell at Fiorentina in between.
Sent on loan to Rangers, Hagi scored three goals for the Glasgow club but is no secret to fans of British football having terrorised the England Under-21 defence in a surprise 4-2 victory for Romania in the summer of 2019. Hagi went on to make the move to Scotland permanent at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, winning the Premiership the next season.
A Romanian legend before going into management, Hagi senior had spells with both Real Madrid and Barcelona, while winning numerous league titles at Galatasaray and Steaua Bucharest.
On an international level, Hagi won 125 caps for Romania and is the country’s joint-top highest goalscorer with 35 goals (level with Adrian Mutu).
Father: Andy Cole
Once a member of Manchester City’s academy, Devante Cole spent the 2020/21 season in the Scottish Premiership with Motherwell.
Like father Andrew Cole, Devante is a centre-forward, scoring 12 league goals for The Well, which subsequently earned him a return to Barnsley in 2021.
One of England’s best strikers, Andy Cole scored 231 club career goals with 119 coming in a seven-year spell with Manchester United.
During that spell, Cole won the Premier League five times, two FA Cups and the Champions League.
Club: FC Copenhagen
Father: Henrick Larsson
Jordan Larsson started his career at Helsingborg, managed by dad Henrik Larsson, and has enjoyed a spell with fellow Swedish side IFK Norrköping.
The 26-year-old’s life at Heslingborg did not go according to plan, as he was attacked by fans in November 2016 following the club’s relegation, moving to the Netherlands with NEC. Jordan joined Bundesliga side Schalke but is currently on loan at FC Copenhagen.
Despite having been managed by his dad, Jordan has a long way to go if he wishes to reach the heights of the Swedish legend.
In a 21-year playing career, Henrik Larsson scored 133 goals, winning 15 trophies, including the 2006 Champions League with Barcelona.
Club: Stoke City
Father: Kevin Campbell
Making his Premier League debut in February 2018 for Stoke City, Tyrese Campbell will be hoping he can have as good a career as the one his dad, Kevin, enjoyed. But first he will need to return to the top flight, suffering relegation with the Potters.
4326 – Tyrese Campbell made his Premier League debut 4326 days after his father Kevin Campbell last made an appearance in the competition (April 2006 v Newcastle). Generation.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 24, 2018
Playing 325 Premier League games for Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Everton and West Bromwich Albion, Kevin Campbell scored 82 goals but was not fortunate enough to win the league, leaving Arsenal before Arsene Wenger’s revolution began.
Father: Enrico Chiesa
Like Simeone, Federico Chiesa is following in his father’s footsteps at Fiorentina.
Son of Italian great Enrico, the 25-year-old has impressed since breaking through the Fiorentina academy in 2016, eventually earning a move to Juventus. Chiesa is highly thought of in Italy and was given his debut for the national team in a friendly against Argentina in 2018, eventually proving key as the Azzurri won Euro 2020.
Enrico, considered one of the most exciting and dynamic strikers in Italy during the mid-’90s, spent three years himself at Fiorentina between 1999 and 2002, winning the Coppa Italia.
Club: Man City
Father: Alf-Inge Haaland
Erling Haaland spent his early career in his native Norway with Bryne and Molde but it was his move to RB Salzburg in 2019 which has really sky-rocketed his career.
The 23-year-old netted 29 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian club, including eight in that season’s Champions League, earning him a move to Borussia Dortmund.
His goalscoring rate in Germany was, quite frankly, ridiculous as well, with Haaland bagging 86 goals in just 89 appearances for Dortmund, earning a move to Manchester City this summer as a result, whom his father also played for. It’s just the 60 goals in 65 games for Man City so far.
His is certainly a far cry from the career of Alfi-Inge Haaland, though, who spent his career playing across defence and midfield for Bryne, Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and City before seeing his career effectively ended by that Roy Keane tackle in the 2000/01 season.
Club: Empoli (on loan from AC Milan)
Father: Paolo Maldini
Continuing a long-running dynasty at the club, Daniel Maldini made his AC Milan debut from the bench against Hellas Verona in February 2020, joining father Paolo and grandfather Cesare as the third of his name to play for the Rossoneri.
Unlike his father, who stands as one of the greatest defenders ever to play the game having won seven Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues during a career spanning over 1,000 games for club and country, Daniel plays as an attacking midfielder.
The teenager isn’t just getting a look-in because of his lineage, either, having scored 32 goals in 67 appearances for Milan at youth level and getting his first senior goal with his dad in the crowd. He’s currently on loan at Empoli.
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Father: Claudio Reyna
Born in Sunderland, Giovanni Reyna would begin his football journey at New York City FC, where his father Claudio Reyna – a former Black Cats midfielder – served as sporting director.
However, the American – named after Claudio’s former Rangers teammate Giovanni van Bronckhorst – turned professional at Borussia Dortmund and has made 107 appearances for the first team, scoring 17 times. Reyna is now seen as a big part of Dortmund’s future, providing a youthful base when fit.
With 20 caps for the United States men’s national team, Giovanni has got a long way to go before matching his father, who claimed 112 caps between 1994 and 2006, making him the 10th most-capped player in USMNT history.
Club: LA Galaxy
Father: Jurgen Klinsmann
Jonathan Klinsmann spent a lot of his youth in the United States where dad Jurgen was manager of the national team.
After spells at various American clubs and trials across Europe, Klinsmann – a goalkeeper – earned a professional contract with Hertha Berlin, spending two years with the capital club, though he did not make a first-team appearance.
In the summer of 2019 Klinsmann left Germany for Swiss side St Gallen but made just two appearances season, before returning to America with LA Galaxy.
It appears unlikely Jonathan will come close to matching the achievements of his father, with Jurgen winning the World Cup and European Championship with Germany, earning 108 caps altogether.
Club: Brentford B
Father: David Beckham
Having been released from Arsenal’s academy in 2015, Romeo Beckham decided he wanted to pursue tennis instead and even trained with Andy Murray, before reversing his decision five years later. Last year he joined his father’s club, Inter Miami, and in January he made his non-competitive senior debut in a 4-0 win against Club Universitario de Deportes. Yet to feature for the first team, Romeo has since joined Brentford’s B side.
Club: Loudoun United (on loan from Inter Miami)
Father: Phil Neville
Harvey Neville was another who got a run-out in that aforementioned friendly against Barca, being brought on at half-time by his father-manager, Phil. The 21-year-old has enjoyed spells at youth level with Man Utd, Man City, Valencia — during Phil’s infamous spell on the coaching staff — and now Inter Miami.
Alexis Mac Allister
Father: Carlos “Red” Mac Allister
If you ever wanted to know the answer to ‘who is better: Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona?’ your best bet is to sit down with the Mac Allisters and pick their brains, as both father and son played with each. Mac Allister Snr was a successful left-back in Argentina, most notably turning out for Boca Juniors and Argentinos Juniors, and he even made three caps for the national team, during which time he played alongside Maradona, as well as a certain Diego Simeone.
Mac Allister Jnr is also forging a pretty nifty career out for himself as well. A Premier Leaguer regular with Brighton & Hove Albion before joining Liverpool this summer, the repurposed midfielder was a standout name for Argentina this winter as La Albiceleste won their third World Cup title. Starring alongside Messi, the 24-year-old has emulated his father by playing alongside one of the greatest ever players to lace up their boots and representing Argentina at international level. Not a bad dynasty.
Father: Robbie Savage
Having come through Manchester United’s youth setup there was every chance Robbie Savage, now a co-commentator, would see his son Charlie play right in front of him. That moment happened in December 2021 when he replaced Juan Mata in the final seconds of a Champions League match against Young Boys subsequently making his professional debut.
“Coming on for Manchester United is Charlie Savage for Juan Mata. Wow. I never believed I would say those words,” Savage senior said on air. “What a proud day for my boy. All the hard work. What a day for me, his mother, his nana, his grandparents and most importantly for Charlie Savage. I’m so proud of him, Darren [Fletcher]. It’s an amazing moment for him.”
Charlie would leave Old Trafford without playing a single minute of Premier League football, but that hasn’t stopped him from earning an international call-up. Wales head coach Rob Page selected him as part of his squad for a friendly match against Gibraltar and a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia.
Savage junior won his first cap in their 4-0 win over Gibraltar, starting and completing the full 90 minutes, he would mark the occasions with an assist.
“He has taken my advice and left,” Page said of Savage’s move from United to League One side Reading in the summer.
“It must have been hard for him. I spoke to Rob who had to leave United to go to Crewe. It’s no different for Charlie.
“He did it because he’s playing week in week out in competitive football. He trains as he plays and has personality. We blocked Robbie from speaking to him all week which was a big achievement.
“Joking aside, Rob has got his back, he’ll look after him. He’s got his feet on the ground. Sav’s best position is an old-fashioned box to box eight. The ball for Kieffer was first class, right on his head. He showed he can do both sides of it and he’s a great talent.”