Footballing talent; you’ve either got it or you haven’t. You’re either lucky enough to have the ‘pingers’ or unfortunate enough to have zero technique.
While some players get to the top level through determination and graft, working tirelessly to make up for a lack of natural ability with a strong work ethic, others have a headstart courtesy of their favourable gene pool.
Nearly every boy on the planet dreams of becoming a professional footballer and if your dad is or was one, he can certainly offer you a helping hand along the road to success.
Players that receive a leg-up don’t have it easy all of the time though. After all, playing in the shadow of your more prestigious parent can often prove to be a burden.
Nevertheless, father and son combinations are perhaps more frequent than you might expect. Some sons manage to follow in their father’s footsteps, while others have failed miserably when attempting to fill their sizeable boots. But here they are in all their glory. Or lack of.
Mark Chamberlain and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
History has a tendency to repeat itself and it certainly did in the Maracana Stadium in 2013 when the younger Chamberlain, with added Ox, thumped home a superb goal against Brazil. For a similar name had been included on the Three Lions’ team sheet in 1984 when England defeated the Samba style with a stunning solo effort from John Barnes. Quite a story that one, although Mark’s admission that he fell asleep and missed the Ox’s big moment is pretty damning of England games early in the previous decade.
Steve and Alex Bruce
Okay, they’re not the most prestigious pair. Steve captained Manchester United and was a stalwart during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign in charge. He also scored twice late on against Sheffield Wednesday to secure United’s first Premier League title. He has since endured mixed success as a manager and is currently out of work having been dismissed by West Brom in late 2022. Meanwhile, Alex was also a centre-back but didn’t experience anywhere near the success enjoyed by his father and recently retired having last turned out for Macclesfield.
Brian and Nigel Clough
The comical Brian was ahead of his time in many ways; his sarcastic yet blunt nature in front of the camera would have been lapped up in the Premier League era. Instead, he was snubbed for the England job because of it. Very much part of the old school, his playing career was curtailed by injury, but he thrived as manager of Nottingham Forest. He has clearly passed his wisdom onto Nigel, who played under his father and now manages Mansfield Town.
Alex and Darren Ferguson
Sir Alex needs no introduction. Arguably the greatest manager of all time, he provided the foundations for Manchester United’s success and their recent demise highlights just how important he was. Fergie helped his son Darren progress through United’s youth ranks but he failed to make the cut at Old Trafford and moved to Wolves. An unspectacular career followed but, like his father, he is now an experienced manager, currently on his fourth spell in charge of Peterborough United.
Harry and Jamie Redknapp
Old ‘Arry played for West Ham United and Bournemouth with distinction before moving into management. His son featured for him at both the Cherries and Southampton but had his most successful spells at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. However, he was forced to call it a day early due to a poor injury record. He can now be seen looking pretty suave on Sky Sports, while Harry has achieved great managerial success with the likes of Tottenham, West Ham and Portsmouth.
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Ian Wright and Shaun, Bradley and D’Margio Wright-Phillips
Natural-born goalscorer Ian is fondly remembered at both Crystal Palace and Arsenal while his punditry work is anything but run-of-the-mill. Meanwhile, adopted son Shaun hampered his career somewhat by rotting away at Chelsea and biological son Bradley failed to make the step up to the Premier League but has achieved great things with New York Red Bulls in MLS — he retired a few years ago. If you want to feel really old, Shaun’s son D’Margio is 22 years old and playing for Stoke.
Peter and Kasper Schmeichel
The goalkeeper was an absolute monster of a man and a pillar in Manchester United’s treble-winning season. He also won Euro ’92 with underdogs Denmark. No pressure then, son. However, Kasper and his father have both played down comparisons between them with Schmeichel senior often keen to point out that his son should be regarded as his own player. Spells in the lower league eventually helped him reach the top tier of English football with Leicester City, helping the Foxes to that Premier League title in 2015/16. He was also key for Denmark as the reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020.
Danny and Daley Blind
Danny was a cultured defender blessed with both superb technique and a powerful presence on the field. His son Daley could be described in precisely the same manner. While his father did not ply his trade outside of the country of his birth, instead forming a part of an outstanding Ajax team in the mid-1990s, Daley signed for Manchester United and was a solid utility man during his four years at Old Trafford. He’s now in Germany with Bayern Munich and plays a key role for the Dutch national team.
Arnor and Eidur Gudjohnsen
A father and son combination both representing their national side at some point in their respective careers is undoubtedly a proud moment. It’s a pretty select club, after all. But the son being introduced as a substitute for his father? That’s just ridiculous. Yet the Gudjohnsens managed it when son Eidur came on for his father Arnor in a friendly between Iceland and Estonia in 1996. Now you’ve heard everything.
Johan and Jordi Cruyff
How do you follow in the footsteps of a man that is heralded as the best player your country has ever produced and is accredited with inventing a brand of total football that was adopted at one of the world’s biggest clubs? With difficulty, it would seem, if Jordi’s career is anything to go by. He played for both Barcelona and Manchester United but failed to reach the lofty heights of his father. Johan was a revolutionary on the pitch; synonymous with fluid interchanging of positions and impeccable passing. Spells in charge of his beloved Ajax and Barca followed while he inspired the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino to managerial greatness.
Paul and Tom Ince
The seemingly self-appointed Guv’nor was a tough-tackling midfielder whose most famous spells came with Manchester United, Liverpool and Inter Milan. However, son Tom is a tricky winger that certainly doesn’t get involved in any of the rough stuff. He started his career on Merseyside but was deemed surplus to requirements. An impressive spell under his father’s guidance at Blackpool soon followed and, after running down his contract, he signed for, ahem, Hull City. Not quite the lucrative move both men claimed was in the pipeline. Tom now plies his trade with Watford, after another spell with his dad at Reading.
Zinedine, Enzo, Luca and Elyaz Zidane
Zinedine may have blessed his son Enzo with a world-class name, but he wasn’t quite able to pass on his footballing brilliance, with the 28-year-old unable to make the grade at Real Madrid and now without a club.
Three more Zidanes are — or were — making their way through the Los Blancos youth system in the form of Luca (now at Eibar), Theo and Elyaz (now at Real Betis). I’m more than happy to lead the chorus chanting that one day they will form a five-a-side team. (Playing monkey rush, obviously).
Gustavo and Diego Poyet
Gustavo made his name in English football with both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before his retirement. However, prior to his move to West London, he enjoyed seven successful years with Real Zaragoza. It was during his spell in Spain when son Diego was born. The now 28-year-old seemed to have the world at is feet at West Ham but never quite made the grade, retiring in 2020.
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Abedi Pele and Andre, Jordan and Ibrahim Ayew
Abedi Ayew earned the nickname Pele after the famous Brazilian striker, but such a generous comparison did not prove to be a poisoned chalice. The Ghanaian was one of the very first African players to make an impact on the European stage and enjoyed impressive spells with both Marseille and Lille, the former of which he won the Champions League with. Meanwhile, his three sons have had varying levels of success in their respective careers — Jordan currently turns out for Crystal Palace, while Andre had spells in England with West Ham and Swansea, and Ibrahim has spent his career around lower-level clubs. The trio have all represented the Black Stars but none will surpass their father’s achievements, though Andre is the nation’s most-capped player.
Cesare, Paolo and Daniel Maldini
Both men have an honours list as long as your arm and both are absolutely idolised at the San Siro. It’s not surprising as the two powerful centre-backs captained Milan to unprecedented success. Cesare went on to manage the club, as well as his national side, but no one could accuse him of bias when he named a certain Paolo in the starting lineup. Paolo’s son, Daniel Maldini, became part of this famous dynasty, making his senior AC Milan debut in February 2020 and playing 24 times — though he is currently on loan.
Carlos “Red” and Alexis 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 League regular with Brighton and now Liverpool, the repurposed midfielder was a standout name for Argentina as La Albiceleste won their third World Cup title. Starring alongside Messi, the 25-year-old has emulated his father by playing alongside one of the greatest ever players to lace up their boots and representing Argentina at the international level. Not a bad dynasty.