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Ben Hayward

Fathers and sons who played football

Jordi Cruyff during the launch of his father Johan Cruyff's autobiography in Spanish and Catalan in 2016.

For so many football fans, love of the beautiful game is inherited from a family member. Often, it is a passion passed from fathers to sons.

Sometimes, talent with the ball runs in the family too. And while it can be hard for a son to live up to the success of a famous father, there are many examples throughout the history of the game of players who have tried – and many who have gone on to have more success than their dads.

Here, a look at some of the most high-profile examples of fathers and sons who have played professional football and how they got on...

32. Diego Maradona & Diego Maradona Jr.

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Diego Maradona did not recognise Diego Maradona Jr. as his son until 2016 and by that time, the younger man's football career was all but over.

Diego Jr. had started out as a youth player at Napoli and even represented Italy at Under-17 level, but never featured above Serie D in his senior career and turned to beach soccer instead.

31. Andy Cole & Devante Cole

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Best known for spells at Manchester United and Newcastle, Andy Cole was one of the Premier League's great strikers in the 1990s and won the treble with Sir Alex Ferguson's side in 1999.

His son Devante is also a striker. He started his career at Manchester City and has represented England at youth level, but has had to drop down to the lower leagues to secure first-team football with the likes of Barnsley and Fleetwood Town. He has also had two spells in Scotland with Motherwell.

30. David Beckham & Romeo Beckham

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Romeo Beckham was born in London at the height of his father's fame, in 2002, and spent time with Arsenal as a youth player.

After giving up football to pursue tennis, he returned to the sport in 2020 and has featured for Inter Miami, where his father is a co-owner.

29. Jurgen Klinsmann & Jonathan Klinsmann

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Jurgen Klinsmann was one of the greatest strikers of his generation and won the World Cup with West Germany in 1990.

His son Jonathan is a goalkeeper who has spent most of his career in Major League Soccer. Eligible for three different national teams, he has represented the United States at youth level.

28. Rivaldo & Rivaldinho

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Rivaldinho, meaning "little Rivaldo", is the son of the Brazilian World Cup-winning forward and also plays as an attacker.

Rivaldo and Rivaldinho both scored in a Brazilian Serie B match for Mogi Morim back in 2015, but the younger man has had nowhere near the success his father enjoyed and has spent much of his career in Romania.

27. Paul Ince & Tom Ince

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Paul Ince was one of England's best midfielders of the 1990s, notably with
Manchester United, Inter and Liverpool. He also won 53 caps for England.

His son Tom is an attacking midfielder who has represented England at Under-21 level, but most of his career has been spent in the Championship, with a number of different clubs.

26. Jorge Higuain & Gonzalo Higuain

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Gonzalo is well known for his career with clubs like Juventus, Napoli and Real Madrid, as well as his time with Argentina's national team.

Perhaps less known is that his father was also a professional footballer. Jorge Higuain was a defender who played for River Plate and Boca Juniors, among others. And it was during a spell at Brest in France that Gonzalo was born, in 1987. His other son, Federico, also played as a forward and was successful in MLS.

25. Steve Bruce & Alex Bruce

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Steve Bruce spent nine years at Manchester United and the centre-back was a key player for Sir Alex Ferguson's side in that time. He is considered one of the best English players never to have won a cap for the Three Lions.

His son Alex was also a defender and the two worked together at Birmingham City and then successfully at Hull, winning promotion to the Premier League with Bruce senior as manager.

24. Brian Clough & Nigel Clough

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Although better known for his career as a manager in which he led Nottingham Forest to back-to-back European Cups, Brian Clough was also one of the best strikers of his generation.

Clough scored prolifically at Middlesbrough and Sunderland, but played only twice for England. His son Nigel was also a forward at Forest, Liverpool and Manchester City, among others. He played 14 times for England.

23. Zinedine Zidane & Luca Zidane

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Zinedine Zidane is considered one of the greatest players of all time and his sons therefore have a lot to live up to in their football careers.

All four are footballers, but perhaps Luca was the wisest as he chose to be a goalkeeper instead of an outfield player, making comparisons more difficult. SInce leaving Real Madrid in 2020, he has represented several other Spanish sides.

22. Frank Lampard Sr. & Frank Lampard

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A left-back who was capped twice by England, Frank Lampard Sr. spent virtually his entire career at West Ham and was assistant coach as his son made his debut for the Hammers in 1996.

The younger Lampard would go on to become one of England's great midfielders and a legend at Chelsea, where he spent 13 years and scored 211 goals between 2001 and 2014.

21. Henrik Larsson & Jordan Larsson

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Henrik Larsson is one of Sweden's all-time great strikers and a legend at Celtic, where he spent seven successful seasons before moving to Barcelona in 2004.

His son Jordan started his youth career at Barça and the forward has played in a number of leagues across Europe. He even played under his father at Helsingborg and has made a number of appearances for the Swedish national team.

20. Periko Alonso & Xabi Alonso

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Xabi Alonso was a World Cup winner with Spain in 2010 and part of the team which claimed European Championship titles in 2008 and 2012. He also had a successful club career with Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

His father, Periko Alonso, was a midfielder who played for Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Spain in the 1970s and 1980s, winning 20 caps for La Roja between 1980 and 1982. Mikel Alonso, Xabi's brother, was also a professional footballer.

19. Claudio Reyna & Gio Reyna

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Claudio Reyna won over 100 caps for the United States between 1994 and 2006 and the midfielder featured in the Premier League for Sunderland and Manchester City.

His son Gio is an attacking midfielder who spent his youth career at New York FC before moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2020. He made his USA debut that same year and has become an important player for his national team.

18. Abedi Pele & Andre, Jordan & Ibrahim Ayew

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Abedi Pele played 73 times for Ghana between 1982 and 1998 and is considered one of the best African players of all time. He is also remembered for his time in the great Marseille team of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

His sons Andre, Jordan and Ibrahim Ayew have all represented Ghana at international level, the first two going on to have long careers with the Black Stars.

17. Carlos Mac Allister & Alexis Mac Allister

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Carlos Mac Allister is a former team-mate of Diego Maradona at Boca Juniors and an ex-Argentina international who played three times for the Albiceleste in 1993.

His three sons are all professional footballers and the most successful is Alexis, who was part of Argentina's World Cup-winning side at Qatar 2022.

16. Carles Busquets & Sergio Busquets

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A goalkeeper who was better known for his ability with his feet than with his hands and for wearing tracksuit trousers instead of shorts, Carles Busquets spent most of his career as second choice at Barcelona.

His son Sergio went on to become one of the best midfielders in Barcelona and Spanish history, winning the World Cup in 2010 and a string of titles at the Catalan club.

15. Ian Wright, Shaun & Bradley Wright-Phillips

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Ian Wright scored 185 goals in 288 games for Arsenal in a successful seven-year spell with the Gunners. Considered one of the club's all-time greats, he also netted nine times in 33 appearances for England.

His sons Shaun and Bradley Wright-Phillips both became footballers. Shaun was a winger who had spells at Manchester City and Chelsea and played 36 times for England. Bradley was a forward who enjoyed a successful career in the United States, notably with New York Red Bulls.

14. Patrick Kluivert & Justin Kluivert

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Patrick Kluivert enjoyed a successful playing career with Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona, among others. A talented striker, he scored 40 goals in 79 appearances for the Dutch national side.

Son Justin is also a forward and has played at a number of different clubs, including Ajax, Roma and Valencia. He has also represented the Netherlands at international level.

13. Gheorghe Hagi & Ianis Hagi

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Gheorghe Hagi scored 35 goals in 135 goals for Romania and the former playmaker is widely regarded as the greatest footballer in the nation's history.

His son Ianis is a talented winger who has played in Italy, Scotland and Spain, as well as featuring prominently for the Romanian national team.

12. Arnor & Eidur Gudjohnsen

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At the age of 17, Eidur Gudjohnsen came on to replace his dad Arnor for Iceland in a game against Estonia as the pair became the first father and son to both appear for an international team in an official match.

Eidur retired in 2016 after a long career. His sons – Svein Aron, Andri Lucas and Daniel Tristan – are professional footballers and all three have represented Iceland at international level.

11. Enrico Chiesa & Federico Chiesa

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Enrico Chiesa was one of Italy's best strikers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he made 17 appearances for the Azzurri and represented the likes of Sampdoria, Parma, Fiorentina and Lazio.

Son Federico also plays as a forward and was a starter as Italy won Euro 2020. At club level, he has played for Fiorentina and Juventus.

10. Lilian, Marcus & Khephren Thuram

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Lilian Thuram is one of France's greatest defenders and was part of the team which won the 1998 World Cup. He earned 142 caps in total and had successful spells at Parma and Juventus in Serie A.

Sons Marcus (a forward) and Khephren (a midfielder) have also represented France at international level and the former was part of the squad which reached the final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

9. Alf-Inge Haaland & Erling Haaland

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Alf-Inge Haaland won 34 caps for Norway and played for Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Manchester City in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Son Erling was born in Leeds and quickly became one of the world's best strikers. After spells at Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund, he joined Manchester City and won the treble in 2022/23.

8. Peter Schmeichel & Kasper Schmeichel

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Peter Schmeichel won five Premier League titles with Manchester United and Euro 92 with Denmark. He is considered one of the best goalkeepers in football history. 

But son Kasper has had a successful career as a goalkeeper too with Denmark and is best remembered for his 11 years at Leicester City, where he won the Premier League in 2015/16.

7. Danny Blind & Daley Blind

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Danny Blind won five Eredivisie titles and a Champions League crown at Ajax in the 1980s and 1990s – as well as 42 caps for the Dutch national team.

Also a defender, his son Daley has won over 100 caps for the Netherlands. He has had two long spells at Ajax, plus stints at Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Girona.

6. Mazinho, Thiago & Rafinha

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A midfielder in Brazil's World Cup-winning side of 1994, Mazinho is the father of Thiago and Rafinha Alcantara.

Thiago and Rafinha both started their careers at Barcelona. The former went on to play for Bayern Munich and Liverpool, as well as Spain. The latter has represented Inter, Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil.

5. Diego Simeone & Giovanni Simeone

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Diego Simeone won over 100 caps for Argentina as an all-action midfielder in the 1990s and 2000s.

All three of Simeone's sons – Giovanni, Gianluca and Giuliano – became footballers. Giovanni has been the most successful, having played for River Plate, Fiorentina and Napoli as a striker. He has also represented Argentina.

4. George Weah & Timothy Weah

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George Weah is considered one of the greatest African players of all time and the former AC Milan forward won the Ballon d'Or in 1995. He later became president of Liberia.

Born in New York, Weah's son Timothy is a right winger who has played for Paris Saint-Germain, Lille and Juventus. He represents the United States at international level.

3. Pablo Forlan & Diego Forlan

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When Uruguay won the Copa America in 2011, striker Diego Forlan said: "It means a lot. My grandfather won it, my father won it and now I have won it."

Father Pablo was a defender for Peñarol and Sao Paulo and represented Uruguay in two World Cups. His grandfather, Juan Carlos Corazzo, was on his mother's side.

2. Johan Cruyff & Jordi Cruyff

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Johan Cruyff's son was born during his time at Barcelona and given a Catalan name, Jordi. Later, the two worked together with Johan as coach and Jordi a player at Camp Nou.

Living up to one of the greatest players of all time was always going to be difficult, but Jordi had a decent career at Barcelona, Manchester United and Alaves, among others.

1. Cesare, Paolo & Daniel Maldini

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Paolo Maldini is one of the greatest defenders in football history and his father Cesare was also a good player for AC Milan in the 1950s and 1960s.

A defender himself, Cesare played 14 times for Italy and later coached the Azzurri. His grandson and Paolo's son, Daniel, is an attacking midfielder who has represented AC MIlan and also Italy at Under-21 level.

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