There comes a time in every football obsessive’s life when you suddenly feel really f*cking old.
For some, it’ll be the depressing realisation that you’re older than the average Premier League footballer and should probably accept your dreams of making it won’t ever be realised.
For others, it’ll that feeling at the pit of your stomach when you realise that the likes of Gavi, Alejandro Garnacho and Stefan Bajcetic were born in 2004, a year you remember as if it were yesterday.
If you’re a millennial, you might well be feeling that now, as it dawns on you that the iconic players you grew up watching in the noughties now have kids breaking through at the top academies across Europe. It’s enough to send you into an existential crisis.
Here are 10 young players that are following in the footsteps, with varying degrees of success, of their iconic footballing fathers.
Joao Mendes (Ronaldinho)
Mendes departed Brazilian club Cruzeiro last year. After almost a year without a club, he arrived in Barcelona to go on trial at the club where his father, Ronaldinho, made history.
After initially impressing, the 18-year-old striker signed a contract with La Blaugrana. He’ll continue his progression with Barcelona Atletic, their youth team.
“Barcelona is part of my life. Wherever I go I take Barcelona with me,” Ronaldinho told Mundo Deportivo.
“With the arrival of my son at Barcelona I will be more present than ever.”
“The pressure that the boy has is very great, because Ronaldinho was one of the best in history,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta added.
“The son has pressure, but it is the job of our coaches to develop his skills.”
Son of the legendary former Barcelona and Inter forward – and now president of the Cameroonian FA – Samuel Eto’o, Etienne was born in Mallorca in 2002 while his father was representing the island club.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder first made headlines with a stunning free-kick in the Under-20 AFCON back in 2021.
“My dad has played a huge influence in my life because I have always admired him and want to learn from him and continue in his steps. Always I want to be someone like him,” young Etienne told Kick442.
“I want to try and be better than him and I am always looking forward to stepping on the pitch and giving my best. Even though I know it is difficult to be better than my father, I want to work hard to achieve like him. He is always there to support me and give me advice.”
He’s currently turning out for Mallorca-based lower league club UD Poblense, having joined the club from Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes last summer.
— KIMBI BLOG (@Kimbiblog) August 17, 2022
File this one under ‘unlikely’. Didier’s son progressed through the Chelsea youth academy and went on to develop at Guingamp, but his professional career leaves a lot to be desired.
He’s represented Serie D club Caratese and is currently unattached after reportedly failing to report to training at his last club, Academica B, of Portuguese student city Coimbra.
Now 22, it doesn’t look as though a career in football beckons.
You might have heard a thing or two about Zinedine Zidane’s four footballing sons.
Eldest son Enzo, 27, has had a nomadic career after leaving Real Madrid in 2017. He’s currently at Spanish third-tier side Fuenlabrada.
Second eldest Luca, 24, is a goalkeeper that made a handful of appearances for Los Blancos but is now turning out for Segunda outfit Eibar.
Might Theo be the one that breaks through at the Bernabeu? The France Under-20 international has been an ever-present for Raul’s Real Madrid Castilla side. Watch this space.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Elyaz, 17, a defender who is also on Madrid’s books. He won the UEFA Under-17 European Championship with France last summer.
The defensive midfielder is arguably already established, especially if you’re a regular watcher of Ligue 1. The son of Les Bleus legend Lilian, and younger son of established France international Marcus, 21-year-old Khephren is enjoying a breakthrough season at Nice.
He’s clocked up over 2000 minutes in the French top flight this season and recently caught the eye by scoring and assisting in a 3-0 victory over Monaco. His talents haven’t escaped the attention of his old man’s former team-mate Didier Deschamps, who has called Khephren up for international duty for the first time.
Thuram could make his France debut in their upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands or Republic of Ireland. Talented family.
The imaginatively-named centre-back developed his skills at Melwood as a child before joining Wigan’s academy back in 2017.
Carragher junior remains on the Latics’ books. He spent a short while getting a taste of senior football on loan at National League side Oldham Athletic but returned to his parent club after suffering a knee injury.
Max Dean nutmegging Jamie Carragher’s lad and sticking one top bins from 25 yards. What were you doing at 17? pic.twitter.com/v8JyYXQncF
— Joe Donnohue (@JoeDonnohue) January 15, 2022
Creatively skirting around ‘Mauricio Junior’, Maurizio was born in Barcelona back in 2001 while his old man was turning out for Espanyol.
He’s since followed Pochettino senior to Southampton and Tottenham, where he progressed in their academies, eventually departing Spurs for Watford in 2021.
The 21-year-old winger made one Championship appearance for the Hornets before being released last summer. He then signed for Spanish third-tier outfit Gimnastic de Tarragona.
Son of Phil, nephew of Gary, 20-year-old right-back has represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level.
He’s contracted at MLS club Inter Miami, who his dad manages, until 2024.
The majority of his appearances to date have come for the B team in the MLS Next Pro development league, but he featured in a pre-season friendly tonking to Barcelona and made his full debut last season.
Call us sceptical.
You no doubt already know about Napoli’s Giovanni Simeone, soon to follow in Cholo’s footsteps as a Serie A title winner. There’s also middle son Gianluca, a striker for Spanish lower league outfit Xerez Deportivo FC.
One you might be hearing more about soon is youngest son Giuliano. The 20-year-old forward was handed his Atletico Madrid debut by Diego last season and currently out on loan at Segunda club Real Zaragoza.