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Ben Hayward

Brothers who played professional football

Theo and Lucas Hernandez ahead of a Nations League game for France against Denmark in 2022.

Football often runs in the family. It is not unusual for fathers and sons to both make it professionally and for siblings to grow up with the dream of reaching the elite.

The chances of a player becoming professional are already slim and it is more common for one brother to outshine another, but sometimes the two triumph at the highest level.

Here, a look at some of the most high-profile footballing brothers in the professional game and how they got on...

32. Uli & Dieter Hoeness 

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Born in Ulm in southern Germany, Uli and Dieter Hoeness both became successful footballers, international players and icons at Bayern Munich.

Uli spent his entire career at Bayern and won 35 caps for West Germany, but saw his career ended by injury at the age of 27. He later became Bayern coach and then their president. Dieter moved to Bayern after a spell at Stuttgart and scored four goals in six games for West Germany, finishing as a runner-up at the 1986 World Cup.

31. Siem & Luuk de Jong

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Born in Switzerland to Dutch parents, Siem and Luuk de Jong both enjoyed solid careers and went on to represent the Netherlands at international level.

Siem started out at Ajax before moving to Newcastle, where he was briefly joined by his younger brother. The two later player together at PSV Eindhoven. At international level, attacking midfielder Siem won six caps and scored twice, while striker Luuk appeared 39 times and netted eight. He also played for Sevilla and, briefly, Barcelona.

30. Diego & Hugo Maradona

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Diego Maradona is considered one of the greatest footballers in history and the legendary number 10 led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.

Like Diego, his younger brother Hugo started out at Argentinos Juniors. The midfielder had spells at Ascoli, Rayo Vallecano and Rapid Vienna in a modest career and represented Argentina at Under-16 level.

29. Antonio & Gianluigi Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma became Italy's first-choice goalkeeper following Gianluigi Buffon's retirement and is considered one of the world's best in his position.

His older brother Antonio is also a goalkeeper and the two spent four seasons together at AC Milan. He made just three appearances in that time, but all three games were 1-0 wins (one after extra time) and he therefore became the first goalkeeper in the club's history to reach 300 minutes without letting in a goal.

28. Philipp & David Degen

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Philipp Degen was a right-back or winger who played for FC Basel, Borussia Dortmund and briefly for Liverpool. He also won 32 caps for Switzerland.

His twin brother David, a right-sided midfielder who made 17 international appearances, played for Borussia Monchengladbach, Young Boys and for FC Basel in three spells. The two were together at Basel in two of those and were both part of the Swiss squad at the 2006 World Cup.

27. Romelu & Jordan Lukaku

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Romelu Lukaku has played for some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter. The striker is also Belgium's all-time top goalscorer.

His younger brother Jordan is less acclaimed, but the left-back is also a Belgian international and at club level, is best known for a lengthy spell with Lazio in Serie A.

26. Hamit & Halil Altintop

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Halil and Hamit Altintop were born in Germany and spent much of their careers in the Bundesliga, but the pair played internationally for Turkey.

Hamit was the more successful of the twins, representing Bayern Munich and Real Madrid after leaving Schalke, where he played alongside his brother for a season. The midfielder also won 82 Turkey caps, while the more attack-minded Halil was capped 38 times.

25. Eden & Thorgan Hazard

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Eden Hazard is one of the greatest players Belgium has produced and the former Chelsea attacker won over 100 caps for the Red Devils between 2008 and 2022.

His younger brother Thorgan has also had a solid career with the Belgian national team and has represented the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and Anderlecht at club level.

24. Jude & Jobe Bellingham

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Born in the market town of Stourbridge, midfielders Jude and Jobe Bellingham came through the youth ranks at Birmingham City.

Jude later became a sensation at Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, making himself a regular for England as a teenager. Jobe, two years younger, is also winning rave reviews for his performances since leaving the Blues.

23. Rio & Anton Ferdinand

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Rio and Anton Ferdinand were born in London and the pair came through the youth system at West Ham.

Both brothers were central defenders: Rio played for 12 years at Manchester United and won 81 caps for England; Anton represented the Three Lions at Under-21 level and featured for Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers after leaving West Ham.

22. Toni & Felix Kroos

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Toni Kroos is one of the best midfielders ever, a World Cup winner with Germany and a multiple European champion for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Brother Felix did not quite live up to those achievements, but represented Germany between Under-16 and U-21 level and played for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.

21. Filippo & Simone Inzaghi

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Filippo Inzaghi is one of Italy's greatest-ever strikers and the former Juventus and AC Milan forward was a World Cup winner with the Azzurri in 2006. In total, he hit 25 goals in 57 appearances in a 10-year international career.

His younger brother Simone was not quite as successful, but enjoyed a solid career which included a long spell at Lazio and three caps for Italy between 2000 and 2003.

20. Rafael & Fabio da Silva

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Rafael and Fabio da Silva came through the youth ranks at Fluminense and signed for Manchester United in a joint deal in 2008.

Of the two twins, Rafael was more successful, going on to make 170 appearances in all competitions for United. Both full-backs won two caps for Brazil.

19. Lars & Sven Bender

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Twin brothers Lars and Sven Bender were both defensive midfielders, although the pair could also operate at the back.

Team-mates at 1860 Munich and later Bayer Leverkusen, the two also played for Germany. Lars won 19 caps and missed out on the 2014 World Cup due to injury. Sven, who spent eight seasons at Borussia Dortmund, played just seven times for Die Mannschaft.

18. Vasili & Aleksei Berezutski

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Both central defenders who could operate as full-backs, Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski spent long careers with CSKA Moscow.

The twin brothers won over 150 caps between them for Russia between 2003 and 2016. After retiring in 2018, they worked together as assistant coaches.

17. Iñaki & Nico Williams

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Born in northern Spain to Ghanaian parents, Iñaki and Nico Williams have both become idols in Bilbao with Athletic Club.

Forward Iñaki is eight years older than his brother and switched international allegiance to represent Ghana after winning just one cap with Spain. Nico, a winger, plays for La Roja.

16. Rob & Richard Witschge

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Midfielders Rob and Richard Witschge came through the youth system at Ajax and both went on to represent the Netherlands at international level.

Rob, the older of the two, won 30 caps and went on to play for Saint-Etienne and Feyenoord. Richard appeared 31 times for the Oranje and had a spell at Barcelona under Johan Cruyff.

15. Giovani & Jonathan dos Santos

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Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos were born in Mexico but started their careers at Barcelona.

Gio, a forward, went on to play for Tottenham, Mallorca, Villarreal, LA Galaxy and America, winning over 100 caps for the Mexican national team. Jonathan, a midfielder, also represented Villarreal, LA Galaxy and America and played 57 times for El Tri.

14. Andre & Jordan Ayew

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Andre and Jordan Ayew are sons of Ghana legend Abedi Pele and the two attackers have both reached the 100-cap mark for the Black Stars.

Team-mates at Marseille earlier in their careers, the brothers have enjoyed successful careers in France and England. Their half brother Ibrahim Ayew also represented Ghana at international level.

13. Kevin-Prince & Jerome Boateng

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At the 2010 World Cup, history was made as brothers Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jerome Boateng lined up on different sides for a group match between Ghana and Germany. The Europeans won the match 1-0.

Four years later, the two teams met again at the 2014 World Cup. Again, the two half brothers featured – this time in a 2-2 draw. Centre-back Jerome had the more successful career, winning the World Cup in 2014 and spending 10 seasons at Bayern Munich. Kevin-Prince, by contrast, won only 15 caps for Ghana, but did play for some big clubs in a colourful career – including AC Milan, Tottenham, Fiorentina and, briefly, Barcelona.

12. Rafinha & Thiago Alcantara

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Sons of Brazil's World Cup-winning midfielder Mazinho, Rafinha and Thiago Alcantara came through the youth system at Barcelona.

Thiago went on to have the more successful career, impressing at Bayern Munich and later Liverpool. At international level, he represented Spain, while his younger brother – who went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain and Inter – was capped by Brazil.

11. Paolo & Fabio Cannavaro

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Paolo Cannavaro made over 400 Serie A appearances for Parma, Napoli and Sassuolo and represented Italy from Under-16 to U-21 level in an impressive career.

But brother Fabio, also a central defender, was much more successful. The older man earned 136 caps for Italy, captained the Azzurri to World Cup victory in 2006 and won the Ballon d'Or.

10. Kolo & Yaya Toure

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Kolo Toure and brother Yaya each made over 100 appearances for Ivory Coast and the pair were part of the team which won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.

Centre-back Kolo won Premier League titles at Arsenal and Manchester City, where he played with his brother. Yaya, meanwhile, is a City legend after a long spell with the club which included three Premier League titles. Previously, the midfielder had been part of Barcelona's treble-winning squad in 2008/09.

9. Ronald & Erwin Koeman

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Ronald Koeman and Erwin Koeman both featured as starters in the Netherlands side which won Euro 88 – the first ever international trophy for the Dutch.

Sweeper Ronald was much more successful, winning European Cups at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona – and earning 78 caps in total. Erwin, a midfielder who was capped 31 times, won two Dutch titles at PSV and a European Cup Winners' Cup at Belgian club Mechelen.

8. Gabriel & Diego Milito

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Gabriel and Diego Milito began their careers at rival clubs in Argentina and played in very different positions – the former as a central defender and the latter as a striker.

The brothers went on to play together at Zaragoza, with Gabriel later featuring for Barcelona and Diego at Inter in successful periods for both clubs. Between them, the pair won 67 caps for Argentina.

7. Gary & Phil Neville

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Gary Neville and brother Phil came through the youth system together at Manchester United and were part of Sir Alex Ferguson's hugely successful side.

While Gary spent his entire career at Old Trafford, Phil played for eight years at Everton after leaving United in 2005. Between them. they won 144 caps for England and regularly featured in the same side for club and country.

6. Frank & Ronald de Boer

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Frank de Boer was a defender who won 112 caps for the Netherlands. His brother Ronald played as an attacking midfielder and made 67 appearances for the Dutch national team.

At club level, the twin brothers were almost inseparable, playing together for five different teams – including Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers.

5. Michael & Brian Laudrup

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Between them, Michael and Brian Laudrup racked up 186 caps and 58 goals for Denmark in the 1980s and 1990s.

Michael was one of the game's greatest playmakers and graced some of Europe's biggest clubs – including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus. Brian played as a winger and represented some big teams, too – Bayern Munich, Fiorentina and Ajax among them. He also won Euro 92 while his brother decided to sit out the tournament.

4. Franco & Giuseppe Baresi

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Franco Baresi is one of the greatest defenders in football history, a World Cup winner with Italy and a legend at AC Milan, where he spent his entire career.

Elder brother Giuseppe, a defensive midfielder, had previously been considered the better player. He made almost 400 appearances for Inter and won 18 caps for Italy.

3. Socrates & Rai

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Socrates was a key member of the 1982 Brazil side, which is still remembered today for its brilliant football – despite not winning the World Cup.

Younger brother Rai did win the World Cup as part of the 1994 squad, although he did not feature beyond the group stages. At club level, the attacking midfielder was at the heart of two Copa Libertadores triumphs at Sao Paulo and a Ligue 1 success with Paris Saint-Germain.

2. Lucas & Theo Hernandez

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Lucas and Theo Hernandez came through the youth system together at Atletico Madrid. Both brothers opted to represent France and Lucas, a central defender, won the World Cup in 2018 and moved to Bayern Munich the following year.

Theo never played an official game for Atletico, controversially moving to Real Madrid before establishing himself at AC Milan later on. The left-back was part of the France side which lost the 2022 World Cup final to Argentina, with Lucas ruled out through an injury picked up in the group stages. The pair won the UEFA Nations League in 2021.

1. Bobby & Jack Charlton

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Bobby and Jack Charlton were both part of England's World Cup-winning side in 1966 – the former a stylish midfielder and the latter a rugged central defender.

Club legends at Manchester United and Leeds, respectively, the two brothers endured a difficult relationship off the pitch and did not speak to each other for many years.

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