Football Features

Footballing Brothers: The best sibling rivalries in the beautiful game

By Squawka News

Published: 20:00, 21 February 2021

Now I’m no mathematician but I’m 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 lighting 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.

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 – he is now a first team coach at Leicester City under former manager Brendan Rodgers.

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.

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.

The former now manages the Dutch national team after abysmal spells with Inter Milan and Crystal Palace respectively, though his stint at Atlanta United started promisingly, while the latter is currently the Ajax A1 assistant manager.

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 manager of Barcelona while his older brother last managed Oman.

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.

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.

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 29 and left the Camp Nou to follow Pep Guardiola to Bayern Munich in 2013 before joining Liverpool last summer. He has also pledged his national allegiance to Spain, where he holds citizenship, receiving 39 caps since 2011.

Meanwhile, 28-year-old Rafinha recently left the Catalan club to join Paris Saint-Germain.

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. Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng (half-brothers)

National allegiances are usually intrinsically grained into a player, depending not only on where they were born but also where they grew up. The Boateng boys clearly disagreed.

Kevin-Prince didn’t endear himself to the German public when he injured Michael Ballack in the FA Cup final and decided to represent Ghana. Jerome played it by the book and pledged allegiance to Germany.

The Bayern Munich defender is now a world champion, while the ‘Prince’ currently plays for Serie B club Monza.

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 is now showcasing his worth as one of the club’s star performers in recent seasons.

Chelsea may not have been able to realise that dream, but the Belgium national side certainly are, with the brothers regularly featuring alongside each other for the Red Devils.

12. Sven and Lars Bender

The pair play alongside each other for Bayer Leverkusen and have also represented Germany at senior level.

Look at them, they’re absolutely loving life.

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 remains uncapped and is currently playing for St Mirren.

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 still at the Liberty Stadium.

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.


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