There are certain families for whom playing football at an exceptionally high level seems to just come naturally.
Successful footballing names such as Charlton (Sir Bobby and Jack), Laudrup (Michael and Brian), Neville (Gary and Phil), De Boer (Frank and Ronald) and Toure (Yaya and Kolo) have all left their indelible mark on the beautiful game.
Sometimes football families are spread across generations too. Just think of these famous footballing father and son duos; Cesare and Paolo Maldini, Johan and Jordi Cruyff, Carles and Sergio Busquets and, of course, Abedi Pele and his two boys Andre and Jordan Ayew.
The aforementioned names are all famous across the football globe for the successes they enjoyed on the pitch and anyone who knows a thing or two about football is well aware of their family connections.
However, there are loads of other relations playing the game at an elite level, ranging from brothers to cousins to fathers to the slightly more tenuous link of brothers in law.
Here are some players who you may be surprised are related (even if just a little bit).
Jay-Jay Okocha & Alex Iwobi (Uncle and nephew)
There was plenty of excitement when young Alex Iwobi burst onto the scene for Arsenal due to his impressive and intelligent displays on the left flank. However, it never worked out and he’s since moved to Everton, where he’s revitalising his career under Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park.
International recognition with Nigeria beckoned after breaking through in north London and it soon emerged that he is directly related to one of the Super Eagles finest ever talents; the one and only Jay-Jay Okocha.
Iwobi is Okocha’s nephew. Okocha, whose mercurial talents lit up dreary Bolton for five years, has no doubt passed on some pearls of wisdom (and as importantly, some outrageous skills) to his young family member down the years.
Emir Spahic & Edin Dzeko (Cousins)
How about this for some football trivia. Bosnia & Herzegovina’s two most capped internationals happen to be cousins!
The no-nonsense defender Emir Spahic has accumulated 94 caps since making his debut for his country back in 2003, while his younger cousin Edin Dzeko leads the way on 107, he is also their leading scorer having registered 58 strikes to date.
Both players have played an integral role in their country’s impressive rise in recent years, helping them qualify for their first-ever major tournament at the Brazil World Cup in 2014.
Joel Matip & Marvin Matip (Brothers) & Joseph-Désiré Job (Cousin)
Remember Joseph-Désiré Job? Middlesbrough fans certainly should, as the Cameroonian forward spent six years on Riverside and even scored one of the two goals as they won their first ever trophy, the 2004 League Cup.
Job retired from the game in 2011 following a spell with Lierse in Belgium, but he has a cousin still playing professionally in the form of Joel who is impressing on Merseyside with Liverpool.
McDonald Mariga & Victor Wanyama (Brothers)
Kenya is a country more associated with long-distance running than football, but the East African country has produced a few handy footballers in recent years, most notably the midfield siblings McDonald Mariga and Victor Wanyama.
Mariga famously became the first Kenyan ever to win the Champions League in 2010 when he was named on the bench as Inter defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 to win the treble, while his younger brother Wanyama established himself as a key player at Spurs before relocating to Montreal Impact earlier this year.
Lomana & Kazenga Lua Lua (Brothers) & Yannick Bolasie (Cousin)
Only 17 footballers hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo have played in the Premier League and three of them are related, the Lua Lua brothers and Everton’s chief trickster Yannick Bolasie.
Lomana enjoyed a few productive years in the top-flight while playing for Portsmouth after starting out at Newcastle alongside his younger brother Kazenga, who can now be seen terrorizing defences in the Championship at Luton Town.
Bolasie, meanwhile, established himself as one of the Premier League’s most dangerous wide midfielder’s and earned a big-money £25m move to Goodison Park from Crystal Palace in 2016. After a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury, he was sent out on loan to Championship side Aston Villa to help their push towards the Premier League summit. He is currently on loan at Sporting CP.
Leroy Fer & Patrick van Aanholt (Cousins)
Both Patrick van Aanholt and Leroy Fer have been capped by the Netherlands at most age groups including the senior team, but their parents actually hail from the tiny island Curacao.
The cousins started their careers at two of Holland’s biggest clubs, Van Aanholt with PSV and Fer at Feyenoord before they found their way over to the Premier League, playing for Crystal Palace and Swansea City respectively.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Rajiv van la Parra (Half-brothers)
In most instances these relatives knew each from birth, however it wasn’t regarding half-brothers Georginio Wijnaldum and Rajiv van la Parra, who became acquainted with each other during a youth football game.
Both grew up in Rotterdam and respectively turned out for the city’s two biggest teams during their formative years. Van la Parra was on Feyenoord’s books though never reached their first team. Wijnaldum, a Champions League and Premier League winner for Liverpool, started out at rivals Sparta Rotterdam before joining the club on the Meuse and it was prior to a youth game between the clubs which brough them together.
“I knew I had another brother, but I never saw him until that moment,” Wijnaldum told The Times. “I never saw pictures because at that time you didn’t have the internet or social media. There was no Instagram or Facebook or anything.”
“She came to me and told me he was Rajiv. In the beginning I didn’t speak. I was looking at him. But I was also happy because I could finally see him. I went to play a game, but I found my brother.”
Clarence Seedorf and Collin Seedorf (Uncle and Nephew)
There wasn’t a bigger poster boy for Ajax’s esteemed youth academy in the 1990s than Clarence Seedorf who lifted the first of his four European Cups — across four different clubs — at the Amsterdam giants in 1995 before immediately moving to Sampdoria.
His legacy, though, would enhance at AC Milan and any relative following in his footsteps would be intimidating, but nephew Collin is giving it a crack, though the 24-year-old centre-back is currently plying his trade at second division Dutch club FC Eindhoven.
Seydou Keita and Mohamed Sissoko (Cousins)
Malian footballing royalty Salif Keïta, named African Footballer of the Year in 1970, has seen his lineage continue in two of his nephews Seydou Keita and “Momo” Sissoko. The cousins between them have won 23 pieces of silverware including five championships across Spain and France.
However, there’s no doubting that Seydou is the more illustrious of the others, having been part of the all-conquering Barcelona team of Pep Guardiola, who incidentally described Mali’s record appearance maker as his “ethical and moral barometer”.
And here are a few brothers-in-law you may not have known about…
James Rodríguez & David Ospina
James Rodriguez and David Ospina have together played 65 times for Colombia and the pair became even more close when Rodriguez married Ospina’s volleyball-playing sister Daniela in 2011 although they’ve since gone their separate ways.
Marek Hamsik & Walter Gargano
Walter Gargano and Marek Hamsik spent eight years alongside each other in Napoli’s engine room before the former departed for Monterrey in 2015 and in that time the Uruguayan midfielder met the Slovakian’s playmakers sister, Michaela, who he wed in 2012.
A couple of Premier League central midfielder’s now, past and present. Bournemouth’s tempo-setter Harry Arter and Fulham’s tough tackling Scott Parker will know each other very well by now, as Parker has been married to Arter’s sister Carly for the past 15 years.