Football Features

18 footballers who are following in the footsteps of their famous dad

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:30, 21 December 2022

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.

As a youngster, the Danish goalkeeper was videoed playing football in the halls of Old Trafford with another famous son, Tom Ince, who has also gone on to play in the Premier League.

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A current Man Utd star is Anthony Elanga who recently opted to represent Sweden at international level. The promising young forward was eligible to represent Cameroon whom his father Joseph turned out for between 1998-2002. Elanga senior was a former Malmo teammate of Zlatan Ibrahimović and the enigmatic Swede is excited about Anthony’s future.

“First time I met him, we were in the restaurant in the [United] training ground and he came up to me and he said, ‘you know my father’ and I was like, help me now because I don’t know who I’m talking to,” he told reporters.

“‘You played with my father Elanga’, and then everything clicked and I said ‘OK’, and it made me happy because I wasn’t the only Swedish one in Manchester, we had another Swedish player.”

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“We’re all happy and we’re enjoying the adventure he is on, he just started and he’s on the way up so it’s good. You will have something to watch for another 20 years,” he added.

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 18 footballers currently playing in Europe, looking to follow in the footsteps of their fathers.

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Justin Kluivert 

Age: 23

Club: Valencia (on loan from Roma)

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 23-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.

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 last season out on loan at Nice, and this season at Valencia.

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.

Marcus Thuram

Age: 25

Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach

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 24-year-old joined the German side after suffering relegation with Guingamp in 2019, putting that spell in France firmly behind him, netting 28 goals in 102 appearances so far. The 24-year-old enjoyed a good first season in Germany, netting 10 times in the Bundesliga, helping Mönchengladbach to a fourth-placed finish and securing Champions League football.

His younger brother Khéphren is currently plying his trade at Nice and is more closer to his father given that he plays as a defensive midfielder.

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.”

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Isaac Drogba

Age: 21

Club: Académica Coimbra B

Father: Didier Drogba

Another famous footballer’s son associated with Guingamp, Isaac Drogba joined the French side in 2018 after leaving the Chelsea academy – though he has since left and can now be found at Académica Coimbra B in Portugal.

Joining the Ligue 2 side’s academy, Isaac is following in the footsteps of father Didier Drogba, who played 50 times for Guingamp before moving on to Marseille, and then Chelsea.

Hailed as one of the best strikers of modern football, Drogba won the majority of his trophies over two spells with Chelsea, including four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and also the Champions League — which saw him score a late equaliser and the winning penalty against Bayern Munich in the final.

Enzo Fernandez 

Age: 27

Club: Fuenlabrada

Father: Zinedine Zidane

One of four sons of Zinedine Zidane, all of whom have followed their father into football, 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 this summer.

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 Rayo Vallecano.

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.

Timothy Weah 

Age: 22

Club: Lille

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 21-year-old striker 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.

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.

Giovanni Simeone 

Age: 27

Club: Hellas Verona

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 27-year-old has thrived elsewhere, netting 10+ goals at Genoa and Cagliari while he bagged 17 in 35 Serie A games for Hellas Verona last term.

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.”

Ianis Hagi 

Age: 23

Club: 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).

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Devante Cole 

Age: 27

Club: Barnsley

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 last summer.

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.

Jordan Larsson

Age: 25

Club: Free agent

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 25-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.

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. He most recently played for Spartak Moscow before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in June.

In a 21-year playing career, Henrik Larsson scored 133 goals, winning 15 trophies, including the 2006 Champions League with Barcelona.

Tyrese Campbell 

Age: 22

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.

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.

Federico Chiesa

Age: 24

Club: Juventus

Father: Enrico Chiesa

Like Simeone, Federico Chiesa is following in his father’s footsteps at Fiorentina.

Son of Italian great Enrico, the 24-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.

Erling Haaland

Age: 21

Club: Man City

Father: Alf-Inge Haaland

Erling Braut 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 21-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.

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.

Daniel Maldini

Age: 20

Club: 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 recently getting his first senior goal with his dad in the crowd.

Giovanni Reyna

Age: 19

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 teenager – named after Claudio’s former Rangers teammate Giovanni van Bronckhorst – turned professional at Borussia Dortmund and has made 77 appearances for the first team, scoring 10 times. Reyna is now seen as a big part of Dortmund’s future, providing a youthful base alongside the likes of Jude Bellingham.

With 12 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.

Jonathan Klinsmann

Age: 25

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 this 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.

Romeo Beckham

Age: 19

Club: Inter Miami

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. More recently, he was handed a brief cameo by Phil Neville in the club’s 6-0 defeat to Barcelona.

Harvey Neville

Age: 20

Club: 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 20-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

Age: 23

Club: Brighton

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 succesful 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 a career out for himself as well. A Premier Leaguer regular with Brighton & Hove Albion, the repurposed midfielder was a standout name for Argentina this winter as La Albiceleste won their third World Cup title. Starring alongside Messi, the 23-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.