Like father, like son. This saying is quite true in many cases, but certainly not all of them, and certainly not in football.
Over the years, the sport has brought several families to the fore, with fathers plotting the way for their offspring. Take the Lampards for example. Frank Lampard Sr. was a star player for West Ham back in his day and his son went on to be one of the best midfielders the game has ever seen.
Frank Jr. is Chelsea’s highest-ever scorer and an absolute legend at Stamford Bridge. His cousin, Jamie Redknapp, is also a second generation footballer and the son of Harry Redknapp. Jamie was also an incredible talent during his days at Liverpool and Tottenham.
There’s also the example of Cesare and Paolo Maldini, who are legendary figures in Italian football, having starred for AC Milan. And in the case of the Maldinis, it has even gone down to the third generation. Paolo’s son, Christian, is already on his way to becoming a star for Milan.
Yet, as mentioned earlier, there are always exceptions. Some players just can’t live up to the expectations and fail to carry on the legacy.
Below are 20 examples of such players.
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20 Tom Ince
Tom Ince is the son of Manchester United legend Paul Ince. His father played as a midfielder at the highest level for several years, starting out at West Ham, then moving on to United. He made 225 appearances in six years at the club before moving to Italy to join Inter Milan.
He returned to England, signing for United’s bitter rivals Liverpool, and saw out the rest of his career at Middlesbrough, Wolves, Swindon Town and Macclesfield, then moved to coaching.
Tom, however, doesn’t look like he will live up to the name. Now 24, the forward kicked his career off at Liverpool, but only made one senior appearance as a substitute before being loaned out. He later rejected a new contract to move to Blackpool, and now plays for Derby County, having spent short stints in the Premier League with Crystal Palace (loan) and Hull City.
Tom is still very young and a lot could change, but for the time being, he’s far from the player his father used to be.
19 Diego Maradona Jr.
Diego Maradona is one of the best football talents the world has ever seen, so there’s really no reason to go in depth here. The Argentine captivated the sport and helped it transcend to new heights with his flashy play and overall offensive dominance.
Whilst playing for Italian side Napoli, Diego had an affair with a young local woman named Cristiana Sinagra who bore him a son in 1986. The star refused to accept or acknowledge his son, Diego Armando Maradona Sinagra, for 30 years, and he didn’t do so till August of 2016.
Like his father, Diego Jr. was drawn to football at an early age. He joined Cervia in Italy’s fifth tier Eccellenza, and kept on playing in the country’s lower leagues, also playing professional beach soccer for Italy, Napoli and A.S.D. Mare di Roma.
18 Cameron Toshack
Welshman Cameron Toshack now works as a coach at Swansea City, having been a player for the club during his playing days. He never made a single appearance for them, however, and it was pretty much the same at Brighton. The forward left both club without an appearance to his name, moving on to Cardiff City and Weymouth.
Cameron is the son of the iconic John Toshack, a former striker who made well over 200 appearances for Liverpool, and also represented Swansea. He also made 162 appearances for Cardiff, where he started out, and after retiring, he would go on into management.
John coached Swansea as a player manager, also managing Wales and Real Madrid among several other jobs.
Cameron, now a respected coach, is nothing like his father was as a footballer and describes himself as just an average player.
17 Diego Poyet
This player is son to Gustavo Poyet, a former Uruguayan midfielder who rose to fame at Real Zaragoza, Chelsea and Tottenham. Gus started out his career with Uruguayan side Bella Vista, and then moved to France to play for Genoble before joining River Plate.
He then moved to Zaragoza and would make over 200 appearances for the Spanish side, later joining Chelsea, where he would spend four years, making 105 appearances. He signed for Spurs thereafter. Poyet never won a league title, but won the Copa del Rey in Spain, as well as the FA Cup in England. He also helped Uruguay win the Copa America in 1995.
His son Diego is still 21 and there’s still time to catch up. However, the midfielder did not make the grade at West Ham, who signed him in 2014, then loaned him out before cancelling his contract this year. He is currently without a club.
16 Andrea Conti
Andrea Conti, now 39, still plays today and is a forward at AC Malcantone. Andrea, unlike his father Bruno, could not make it at AS Roma, and was left to wander around Italy’s lower tiers for most of his years.
Bruno is a World Cup winner with Italy, having lifted the coveted trophy in 1982. A former winger, the italian spent his entire career at Roma, albeit spending two loan stints with Genoa. He made over 300 appearances for the club, winning the Serie A title in 1983, as well as five Coppa Italia trophies.
Andrea, meanwhile, spent the longest spell of his career at Swiss outfit Bellinzona, scoring 14 goals in 112 appearances. As for Roma, the forward only managed a meagre two outings.
15 Roman Golobart
Roman Golobart is the son of Joan Golobart, a Spanish central midfielder who spent most of his career at Espanyol, making 81 appearances for the La Liga side.
Roman plays as a defender for Segunda B side Murcia. He also played for Espanyol, yet never at senior level. The 24-year-old joined Wigan under Roberto Martinez in 2009 and won the FA Cup with the English side in 2013. He spent two seasons on loan before the FA Cup win, firstly signing with Inverness City and then Tranmere Rovers.
Golobart then moved to Germany and signed for FC Koln, spending two seasons, one of which on loan at Erzgebirge Aue, before returning to Spain to sign for Racing Ferrol.
The defender has never played for Spain at senior level, but has made two appearances for the Under-17 side.
14 Daniel Nardiello
Daniel Nardiello is the son of former Coventry City striker Donato Nardiello. To be fair here, the dad in this case wasn’t better, yet the son is a second generation player anyhow and didn’t cut it at top level.
Donato started out at Coventry City and later moved to the US to play for the Detroit Express and Washington Diplomats in the North American Soccer League. He also made two appearances for Wales.
Daniel, also a striker, kicked things off at Wolverhampton Wanderers as a youth, but Manchester United snatched him up in 1999. He worked his way up to the senior side, making just one appearance before getting farmed out on loan to Swansea and Barnsley.
United released him in 2005 and he joined Barnsley on a permanent basis, subsequently signing for QPR, Blackpool, Bury, Hartlepool United, and Exeter City, among other clubs.
Now 35, he plies his trade at Bangor City FC.
13 Nico Pandiani
Nico Pandiani is still quite young, and at 22, he still has a ways to go. However, he could still hold down a spot on this list. Son of Walter Pandiani, a Uruguayan who is a former striker, Nico – a defender - played in Villareal’s C team while his father played in the senior side as a 36-year-old.
Walter spent the majority of his career playing for Uruguayan side Penarol, Deportivo La Coruna, Espanyol and Osasuna.
The younger Pandiani followed his father to Segunda B side Atletico Beleares as well, before returning to Uruguay to join Miramar Misiones, after which he would split from the old man to play for Marina de Luanco in the depth of Spain’s tiers.
In 2015, Nico joined Canadian Soccer club, which is actually based in Uruguay and not Canada, but moved back to Spain that same year to play with another lower league club Masnou. He is now back at Miramar Misiones, and still has a career ahead of him, yet you don’t see him making a name at a top club.
12 Max Vieri
Max Vieri is a retired Australian striker who is the son of former Sampdoria forward Roberto Vieri. He is also brother to Christian Vieri, who was hailed as one of Europe’s finest strikers and scored over 100 goals for Inter Milan in the heights of his career.
Roberto isn’t as recognized as his son Christian. He started out at Fiorentina and later moved to Sampdoria, the club where he spent the most time. He also represented the likes of Juventus, AS Roma and Bologna.
Max, unlike his older brother, wasn’t very prolific. He made the most appearances for Prato during his career, playing 84 matches but only scoring 19 goals. Max also played for Napoli at one point, scoring five goals in 29 appearances in the space of one season. He signed for Juventus as well at another point, but failed to make a single appearance.
11 Alex Bruce
Hull City defender Alex Bruce hasn’t led an impressive career as his father Steve did. The Englishman, now 32, certainly hasn’t seen success like his old man, and doesn’t look like he will either.
Steve, who just took up the job at Aston Villa, had quite the career as a player. He began his career as an apprentice with Gillingham and went on to make over 200 appearances for the club before moving to Norwich City. But it was at Manchester United, where he would become a huge name in English football.
The ex-midfielder won three league titles with the Red Devils, as well as three FA Cups. He made 309 appearances for the club and is regarded as one of the best English midfielders who never got called up for his country.
Meanwhile, Alex can only boast winning a League One playoff final.
10 Devante Cole
Devante Cole is the son of former Manchester United great Andy Cole. Like his father, Devante plays as a striker and is now at Fleetwood Town, having joined from Bradford City in January of 2016.
He started out as a youngster at Manchester City in 2003, moving up their youth ranks and making his way into the first team for a pre-season tour in 2013. The 21-year-old did not play a single competitive match that season, however, and was loaned to Barnsley the following year. Devante spent the next year on loan at MK Dons, before permanently leaving City to join Bradford.
So far, he has scored just two goals in 31 appearances for his current side and is certainly not as prolific as his father was in his day. There’s still time to turn things around, though.
9 Niall Keown
The 21-year-old son of former Arsenal and Aston Villa centre-back and defensive midfielder Martin Keown, hasn't had the same success as dear ol' dad.
Niall, a defender attached to Reading, joined the club’s academy in 2011 and signed a three-year deal in in 2015. Like a few other players on this list, he still has time on his side, but we’re not sure that he’ll ever reach the heights his father did.
Martin began at Arsenal, but was sold to Villa after just 22 appearances with the senior team. Everton bought him three years later and he would move back to the Gunners after a four-year stint with the Merseyside club.
The Englishman went on to make over 400 appearances for Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the North London club.
8 Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson is the son of Cheltenham Town manager Gary Johnson. Gary, who played as a midfielder, wasn’t really a household name, having played for smaller clubs all of his career.
His son, now a manager himself, did pretty much the same, suiting up as a midfielder for the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion, Brentford, Yeovil Town, Heart of Midlothian and Bristol City.
Lee started out at Arsenal, but had a row with one of the club’s coaches and left for Watford as a 17-year-old. He didn’t make any appearances, despite his father running the youth set-up there at the time and would move on to Brighton.
He played out the majority of his career at Yeovil Town (192 appearances) and Bristol City (174 appearances), later moving on to management like his father. He is now the manager at Bristol.
7 Sam Shilton
Sam Shilton is son to legendary England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who made well over 100 appearances for the Three Lions between 1970 and 1990, appearing in three World Cup Finals, as well as two European Championships.
Peter won the Champions League twice (European Cup back then) with Nottingham Forest, also winning the First Division title and the League Cup with the club. He also made it into the PFA Team of the Year on 10 occasions and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Sam, on the other hand, played as a midfielder for clubs such as Hartlepool United, Kidderminster Harriers, Burton Albion and Hinckley United. In a career spanning almost 20 years, he won absolutely nothing.
6 Willy Aubameyang
Willy Aubameyang is the brother of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and is also the son of former Gabon international Pierre Aubameyang. Pierre made 80 appearances for Gabon, and spent the majority of his club career at French clubs Laval, Le Havre and Toulouse.
Willy, a 29-year-old midfielder, plays for German club Kray. He has also made 15 appearances for Gabon. He spent six years at AC Milan, but never made a single competitive appearance for the senior side, despite featuring in pre-season tournaments and making the bench in league fixtures.
Whilst at Milan, he spent two seasons out on loan with Avelino, Eupen and Monza. After leaving Milan, he was handed a short-term contract at Kilmarnock, making six appearances at the club.
While he hasn't done much, his brother Pierre-Emerick, who plays at Borussia Dortmund, has turned into one of the better forwards in the world today.
5 Andre Andre
Porto Midfielder Andre Andre isn’t exactly following in the footsteps of his father Antonio Andre. Antonio played for Porto as well, but saw much success, featuring as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder for the Portuguese side.
He made 276 appearances for Porto between 1984 and 1995, winning seven Primeira Liga titles as well as the Champions League. Antonio helped Porto win a whopping 19 trophies in his time at the club, which is way more than we can say for Andre, who is now 27.
He has only been Porto a little over a year, having signed from Vitoria Guimaraes last summer, but has only won a third division title with Varzim and a Portuguese Cup with Guimaraes.
So far, Andre has made 47 appearances for Porto. The rest is left to be seen.
4 Mikel Alonso
Mikel Alonso is brother to Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso and is also the son of Periko Alonso.
The former midfielder represented Real Sociedad and Barcelona before moving on to management. He also made 20 appearances for Spain, but would retire from international football a bit early, after the disappointment of the 1982 World Cup campaign. He won La Liga on two occasions with Sociedad and once with Barcelona.
His younger son Xabi has seen great success at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern, also winning the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. But Mikel, who played together with his brother at Sociedad during the first years of his career, hasn’t seen the kinder side of the game as it relates to achievements.
He now plays for Segunda B club Real Union in Spain, having played out short stints in England with Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic.
3 Bernard Suker
Bernard Suker is the son of Croatian legend Davor Suker. He certainly hasn’t lived up to the name, and playing as a striker for ASK Blaue Elf Wels in Austria, he doesn’t look to make good on that anytime soon.
Davor, now the President of the Croatia Football Association, is his country’s highest-ever scorer with 45 goals, but with Mario Mandzukic following closely with 28, he could be knocked off the pedestal. Whether or not that happens, it took Davor just 69 appearances to reach his tally, whereas Mandzukic has played 72 times.
At club level, Suker represented the likes of Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla, Real Madrid and Arsenal. He won La Liga and the Champions League with Madrid, also winning the Golden Boot in the 1998 World Cup with six goals.
His son has been nothing like him and never once represented his country.
2 Catilina Aubameyang
Also the son of Pierre Aubameyang, Catilina Aubameyang plays as a left winger for FC Sapins in his country Gabon.
The 33-year-old had a spell at AC Milan as well, but only made three appearances for the club. He was sent out on loan on five occasions, before leaving for good to join 105 Libreville in 2006. He does have a Champions League winner’s medal from his time with the Serie A side, however.
Catilina represented France at the Under-19 level, but opted to play for Gabon after failing to make it into France’s senior side. He has since made just nine appearances for his country, scoring one goal in the process.
Like his brother Willy, he hasn’t had that great of a career, but there’s hope yet - for the family - with Pierre-Emerick still kicking about in Europe.
1 Shaun Wright-Phillips
The New York Red Bulls winger is the adopted son of Arsenal legend Ian Wright, but he’s still eligible anyhow.
Ian, a former striker who now works as a pundit, made his name at Crystal Palace in the late 80s before signing for the Gunners in 1991. Having made over 200 appearances for Palace in a six-year stint, the now-53-year-old spent seven years at Arsenal, making 221 appearances and scoring 128 goals!
Shaun seemed poised to make as big a name for himself. He was blessed with electric pace and dribbling ability, and was good for a goal here and there. But playing on the biggest stage with Manchester City, Chelsea, then Manchester City again, he was never much to talk about.
That’s not to say he isn’t a decent player, but then, Ian was far from just decent and Shaun was expected to be much more.
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