19 footballer sons looking to follow in their famous fathers’ footsteps
It can be hard for footballers to deal with retirement – but former Manchester United, Chelsea and AC Milan heroes are among those who at least get to continue living their dream through their sons.
It’s every young football fan’s dream to make it as a professional – and is if those that manage it aren’t lucky enough, some of them even go on to see their sons follow in their footsteps.
Warning: This is likely to make you feel incredibly old.
Bryan Gunn began his career in his native Scotland with Aberdeen before going on to join Norwich City, for whom he made 478 appearances.
It was only natural, then, that Angus Gunn began his youth career with the Canaries, but he was snapped up by Manchester City as a 15-year-old in 2011, signing his first professional contract a couple of years later.
He was loaned back to the Canaries for the 2017-18 season and impressed so much in the Championship that Southampton were happy to splash out an initial £10million to take him to the Premier League.
Patrick Kluivert played for clubs including Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona during his career, scoring 200 times. He won the Eredivisie twice, the Champions League and La Liga.
He also scored 40 goals in 79 appearances for the Netherlands, helping them to the World Cup semi-finals in 1998. In short, he was good.
His son Patrick isn’t bad either. Also starting out at Ajax, Kluivert Jr scored his first senior goal in March 2017 a decade and a day after his father’s last career strike, earning himself a Europa League runners-up medal at the end of the season.
He scored 11 goals in 36 games the following campaign to earn a move to Roma for an initial €17.25m, again following in his father’s footsteps by heading to Italy after leaving Amsterdam.
Unsurprisingly, Harvey Neville, the son of Phil, started his youth career at Manchester United.
He then moved across the city and won the Premier League International Tournament with City’s Under-13s in 2015 before following his dad and uncle, Gary, to Valencia.
He remained in Spain after their sacking before agreeing terms to re-sign for United just before his 16th birthday. He plays on the right side of midfielder and has been already been referred to as the ‘new David Beckham’ by The Daily Mail. Of course.
Alf-Inge Haaland enjoyed a fine career in England with Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Manchester City before his career was brought to a premature end, with a little help from a tackle by Manchester United’s Roy Keane.
Haland once said, “I really dislike United and I can’t stand their players”, which would surely leave him with mixed emotions should his son Erling join his old enemies.
It could happen, though, with Molde director Oystein Neerland claiming the Red Devils are one of several major European clubs to have been scouting the 17-year-old striker.
In October 2017, while George Weah was concentrating on his run at the Liberia presidency, his son Timothy was raising the spirits of USA fans still reeling from their World Cup qualification woes.
Weah Jr, born in New York, smashed in a hat-trick for United States at the Under-17s World Cup in India as Paraguay were thrashed 5-0.
He left the New York Red Bulls Academy in 2014 to join PSG, for whom his dad also played for, and in the second half of the 2017-18 season he made his first three senior appearances in Ligue 1.
Gianluigi Buffon made his debut for Parma in 1995, keeping a clean sheet against George Weah's AC Milan.
23 years later, Buffon trains with George's son, Timothy, at Paris Saint-Germain. pic.twitter.com/D6ABZom8pu
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 10, 2018
Enzo, Luca, Theo and Elyaz Zidane
Zinedine has four sons who are all a bit handy, which should come as little surprise. And all four started their youth careers with Real Madrid.
The World Cup winner’s eldest boy, Enzo, joined Swiss Super League team FC Lausanne-Sport in January 2018 after a half-season spell at Alaves, while Luca, a goalkeeper, made his debut for Real’s first team on the final day of the 2017-18 season.
Younger brothers Theo and Elyaz are working their way through the ranks as attacking midfielders.
Zinedine Zidane obviously had no qualms about his sons being on the books at Real, but Diego Simeone is having none of it.
Despite his son Giovanni, a talented striker who has already moved from River Plate to Genoa and then to Fiorentina, impressing in Serie A and through the international youth ranks with Argentina, dad Diego refuted suggestions earlier that he could take his son to Atletico.
“Giovanni has qualities that I like a lot and with effort and hard work he will definitely become a big player, but not with my team.”
European Golden Boy nominee Ianis also signed for Fiorentina in July 2016, joining for €2million from Viitorul Constanța
He made two substitute appearances in Serie A in 2016-17 before moving back to Romania with Viitorul.
He has a way to go to emulate his dad, Gheorghe, who is considered the greatest Romanian footballer of all time.
Christian and Daniel Maldini
Following in the footsteps of a successful footballing father is hard enough for most, but being the son of Paolo Maldini must be doubly difficult.
Christian had a crack at carrying on the family legacy at the San Siro but, after coming through their youth ranks, he was released by the Rossoneri aged 20 in 2016 when he joined Reggiana.
It didn’t work out there either, nor did it go well during a loan at Malta’s Hamrun Spartans in the Maltese Premier League. Maldini joined Serie D side Pro Sesto before climbing back up a rung on the ladder by moving to Serie C side Racing Fondi in 2017.
There are higher hopes for his younger brother Daniel, who is impressing as a striker in the AC Milan academy.
The looks have certainly been passed down so hopefully the talent has, too.
— Paolo Maldini Fans (@MaldiniNews) January 23, 2018
The son of Brazil star Rivaldo is carving a career out for himself, with the 23-year-old now playing in Bulgaria for Levski Sofia.
He has already been back and forth between Brazil and Europe, having scored in the same game as his father for Mogi Mirim before moving to Portuguese club Boavista in August 2015.
Rivaldinho managed only one league appearance prior to signing with Internacional, who returned him to Europe in February 2017 when he was offered a three-year contract by Dinamo Bucharest.
He scored six goals in 36 appearances for the Romanias before joining Levski in January 2018.
Joe van der Sar
The 20-year-old has to fill some massive gloves – literally – if he is to follow in his father’s footsteps. The goalkeeper came through the ranks at Ajax, where Edwin is now CEO, but left Amsterdam in 2017 to join ADO Den Haag before moving on to RKC Waalwijk a year later.
Van der Sar Jr. also spent time at the Manchester United academy, where he played in the same age group as Marcus Rashford.
Oan is continuing a family legacy that began with his grandfather, Jean, who won 48 France caps while playing for PSG, Lyon and Marseille.
Oan’s dad Youri, of course, is a World Cup and European Championship winner, so the young midfielder has a long way to go from Nantes reserves if he is to emulate his elders.
Aron, Andri Lucas and Daniel Gudjohnsen
Eidur Gudjohnsen’s 16-year-old half-brother joined Swansea City in 2017, but the former Chelsea and Barcelona star also has three sons well placed to continue the family trade.
His eldest son, Aron, was on the books at Barcelona, but is now in Iceland with Breidablik.
In the summer of 2018, Real Madrid signed both of Gudjohnsen’s other sons for their youth ranks, taking Andri Lucas from Espanyol and 12-year-old Daniel directly from Barcelona.