Now we’re no mathematicians but we’re pretty confident that at least 7.8 out of 10 children grow up wanting to be footballers. Yeah, that seems pretty accurate. And who can blame the little devils?
It’s a dream job. Running around with your mates doing what you love all day? There are far harder gigs out there. Don’t forget the money. The absolute shed load of cash that players earn only adds to the appeal.
Then there’s the glory. Oh, the glory. Talk about job satisfaction.
Carving out a professional career in the beautiful game is an achievement in itself. Those that manage it are part of a select few and become the envy of, well, almost everybody.
But what about when lightning strikes twice in the same household? A leg up in the game courtesy of a generous footballing gene pool is a lot more common than you might think. Let’s face it, sibling rivalry affects us all. ‘Anything you can do I can better’ and all that malarkey.
So, here are a collection of footballing brothers that Squawka has an awful lot of time for. Some of them you will know, some of them you won’t, but either way, don’t go squealing to your mum about it. Or there’ll be trouble.
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1. Yaya and Kolo Touré
What a cracking place to start. Kolo was not only a solid member of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles side’ but he also went on to win the Premier League title with Man City in 2011, doing so alongside his brother.
For Yaya, he became the first player to win African Player of the Year four times in a row in 2014 and would win a further two league titles with the Citizens, while Kolo enjoyed one final sojourn with Celtic before hanging up his boots in 2017. Kolo was most recently manager of Wigan Athletic, while Yaya is an academy coach at Tottenham.
2. Gary and Phil Neville
Although both men were members of United’s ‘Class of ’92’, Fizzer (as no-one calls him) is not remembered as fondly as Gary at Old Trafford. He isn’t well liked in general really, after conceding a penalty for England against Romania in Euro 2000.
And that reputation took another hit after he pitched up at Valencia as assistant manager to his brother, with the duo lasting less than a year before they were sacked following a disastrous campaign. Phil remained in management, now in charge of Inter Miami after underwhelming with England’s Lionesses, while Gary has stuck to punditry.
This is also a good moment to put on record that their father is called Neville Neville. Honestly.
3. Ronald and Frank De Boer
These chaps were anything but a bore on the pitch. They literally followed each other around for their entire careers, featuring for Ajax, Barcelona, Rangers, Al-Shamal and Al-Rayyan before retirement. Frank became manager of Ajax 2010, while Ronald was a coach. Forever in his shadow.
Frank has since gone on to manage Inter Milan, Crystal Palace, Atlanta United and the Netherlands but hasn’t found a new home after leaving the latter in 2021. Ronald remained a coach at youth level in Ajax before leaving in 2020.
4. Ronald and Erwin Koeman
Erwin may be the older brother, but it is Ronald who enjoyed the more prolific career. Ronald won double the number of caps for the Netherlands as his sibling and also represented Barcelona with distinction, while Erwin didn’t play outside of the Eredivisie.
They both went into football management with Erwin working as an assistant to Ronald during his stints in charge of Southampton and Everton, but after a poor showing on Merseyside, they have since gone their separate ways.
Ronald is now the manager of the Netherlands for the second time, with Erwin as his assistant.
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5. Michael and Brian Laudrup
Despite Michael winning league titles with Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as a European Cup, brother Brian perhaps topped his brother after he helped Denmark to the unlikeliest of European Championship triumphs in 1992.
Michael and Brian both ruled themselves out of national selection that year after disagreements with then-coach Richard Moller Nielsen, but the latter opted to go to the tournament anyway, while his brother decided to top up his tan on holiday – oh how he rues that decision now.
6. Bobby and Jack Charlton
How can you upstage your sibling in the biggest way possible? Earn yourself a knighthood. Both men won the World Cup with England in 1966 but Bobby went on to become the nation’s all time top scorer before a certain Wayne Rooney came along. Jack was left languishing on 35 caps.
Here they are back when football wasn’t all about the money.
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7. Franco and Giuseppe Baresi
When brothers play for nemesis clubs it can be regarded as one of the fiercest sibling rivalries known to mankind – and that is exactly what Franco and Giuseppe Baresi done during their playing careers.
Franco was a Milan legend during his time on the pitch, while Giuseppe was an Inter legend, with both players winning a plethora of titles – as well as a few bumps and bruises during the Milan Derby.
8. Pippo and Simone Inzaghi
Filippo Inzaghi was the more iconic brother during his playing time in Serie A, scoring goals for fun with Atalanta, Juventus and AC Milan, not to mention his exceptional record for Italy.
Simone meanwhile spent most of his career with Lazio and only mustered three Italian caps, though is currently enjoying the better managerial career than his once prolific brother — not that ‘Pippo’ is supporting his endeavours.
Simone is currently the manager of Inter, and will be taking charge of an epic Champions League semi-final against Milan. It is being described as a Derby della Madonnina for the ages, and ‘Pippo’ has made his allegiances clear.
“I’m happy for him [Simone] and he deserves to make this semi-final, but I am tied to Milan and will always be their supporter,” ‘Pippo’ said of Wednesday’s semi-final clash at the San Siro.
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9. Rafinha and Thiago Alcántara
One was born in Italy, the other was born in Brazil. They’re both bloomin’ good at football though.
Older sibling Thiago is now 32 and left the Camp Nou to follow Pep Guardiola to Bayern Munich in 2013 before joining Liverpool. He has also pledged his national allegiance to Spain, where he holds citizenship, receiving 46 caps since 2011.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Rafinha left the Catalan club to join Paris Saint-Germain and is now with Al-Arabi in Qatar.
He has featured for several of Spain’s youth sides but has also turned out for Brazil’s Under-20s in the past, though he opted to represent the country of his birth where he has since picked up two caps for the Seleção.
10. Sofyan and Nordin Amrabat
Sofyan Amrabat’s performances for Morocco at the World Cup — being instrumental as the Atlas Lions reached the semi-finals — stirred some memories of another, perhaps more well-known Amrabat at least on English shores. While Sofyan has made a name for himself at Fiorentina, big brother Nordin spent two-and-a-half-years at Watford, making 48 appearances for the Hornets including 44 in the Premier League.
Nordin is currently plying his trade in Greece with AEK Athens, but hasn’t featured for the Moroccan national team for three years, allowing his younger brother to become the star. The pair were able to play with each other nine times for Morocco though, sharing the pitch for a total of 360 minutes.
11. Eden and Thorgan Hazard
When Chelsea learned that Eden had a younger brother they snapped him straight up. In fact, Thorgan arrived at Stamford Bridge as part of the deal the Blues agreed with Lille in order to sign Eden.
However, dreams that the west Londoners could one day feature both brothers are all but over after Thorgan signed for Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2015, before joining Borussia Dortmund where he started showcasing his worth.
Chelsea may not have been able to realise that dream, but the Belgium national side did, with the brothers regularly featuring alongside each other for the Red Devils. However, that will be no more after Eden announced his retirement from international football.
12. Sven and Lars Bender
The pair played alongside each other for Bayer Leverkusen, represented Germany at senior level and retired at the same time.
Look at them, they’re absolutely loving life.
Since the year 2000, there have been 16 editions of the European U-19 Championships and only on one occasion has the Golden Player Award be shared.
In 2008, Lars and Sven Bender were the Award Twinners.
13. Rio and Anton Ferdinand
Remember when we were all convinced that England would be able to call upon these footballing brothers in the heart of defence? Rio did his bit, and became a regular for the Three Lions throughout a prestigious career at Manchester United, and even became captain of the national side. Briefly.
Anton? Not so much. He remained uncapped and retired in 2019.
14. Jordan and Andre Ayew (Abedi Pele is their dad)
The Ayews are quite a footballing family. Their family tree could probably cobble together an entire team. Former Ghana captain Abedi Pele is the father of both forwards.
Jordan and Andre played together at Marseille for several years and reunited at Swansea before going their separate ways. The former now at Crystal Palace and the latter currently with Nottingham Forest.
15. Khephren and Marcus Thuram
Living up to the expectations of a World Cup-winning father can never be an easy thing, but brothers Khephren and Marcus are making a pretty good go of it.
Collectively, they have some way to go before they can match their father, Lilian’s, trophy cabinet and personal CV — which includes 142 caps for France, two Scudetti with Juventus, a World Cup and European Championship double with Les Bleus and just shy of 60 appearances for Barcelona — but they a forging very credible and impressive careers in their own right.
Marcus, the more senior of the Thuram boys at 25 has endeavoured to rack up 10 international appearances for France and is causing quite the commotion in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach.
His 13 goals this term places him second in the Kicker-Torjagerkanone race for top scorer (behind only Niclas Fullkrug, 16 goals), and that has naturally alerted the Premier League to his attention. His contract in the Ruhr district expires this summer.
Khephren, meanwhile, made his France debut in March and is also generating a pretty intense spotlight at Nice. At 6ft 4in, he is not an orthodox midfield presence. Taking a leaf out of his old man’s book, Khephren often mimics Lilian’s once powerful and bustling runs, a notion reinforced by his 46 completed take-ons in Ligue 1 this term, the fourth-most among central midfielders.
Honourable mentions: Gonzalo and Fernando Higuain, Uli and Dieter Hoeneß, Richard and Rob Witschge, Socrates and Rai, Luuk and Siem De Jong, Niko and Robert Kovac, Hamit and Halil Altintop, John and Paul Terry, Shaun and Bradley Wright-Phillips, Fabio and Rafael, Fabio and Paolo Cannavaro, Diego and Gabriel Milito, McDonald Mariga and Victor Wanyama, Yannick Sagbo and Guy Demel, Shola and Sammy Ameobi.