The world of soccer is incredibly competitive and difficult to break in to. So many youngsters around the globe want to become professional soccer players and only a precious few ever get to realize such aspirations. It is perhaps surprising, then, that so many players have had fathers, uncles or brothers who played/are playing the game. Eiður Guðjohnsen almost got the chance to play alongside his father for the Icelandic national team back in 1996, but instead replaced his Dad as a sub and injury prevented the pair from ever having the opportunity to do so again.
There is also the odd case of brother and sister soccer players, such as Eniola Aluko and Sone Aluko; Eniola plays for Chelsea Ladies and the England Women's National Football Team whilst Sone chose to represent the Nigerian Men's National Team and plays for Premier League side Hull City. However, this list is in regards to the 'Top 15 Brothers in Soccer History'.
Unsurprisingly, there is usually a superior brother who is clearly more talented. Some exceptional players have brothers who play professionally but at a much lower level. For example, Wayne Rooney is one of the most decorated players in the Premier League, whilst his brother also plays professionally for Chester in the Conference, the fifth tier of English football. This list is in reference to the brothers' collective ability, so preferably brothers who are both distinguished soccer players in their own right.
15 Filippo & Simone - Inzaghi
Filippo Inzaghi is of course the more highly regarded of the Inzaghi brothers, but brother Simone did show great promise at times in his career, despite only playing sporadically. Filippo was an exceptional finisher and one of the last great 'poacher'-type strikers. Only Messi, Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo have more Champions League goals than him. He scored over 300 goals for club and country, winning 3 Serie A titles, 2 Champions League's and a World Cup. Simone got his break-through aged 23 when signed by Lazio and began with a bang, scoring four goals in a single Champions League game against Marseille, equaling Marco Van Basten's record. His early Lazio form earned him an Italy call-up but he soon faded away and struggled to hit the feats of his brother, only making 240 league appearances over a 14 year career.
14 Sven & Lars - Bender
The Bender brothers (no giggling, please), are both full internationals for Germany. Aged 25, they both began their careers at 1860 Munich where they both spent three years before moving on. Sven moved to Borussia Dortmund whilst Lars headed to Bayer Leverkusen, and both have had successful careers. At Dortmund, Sven has won a Bundesliga, a DFB-Pokal and two DFL-Supercup's, as well as becoming a Champions League runner-up. Lars has had less success, managing only a Bundesliga runners-up medal. Neither featured in Germany's 2014 World Cup winning squad, although Lars was picked he was sadly ruled out through injury.
13 Eden & Thorgan - Hazard
Okay, this one could be a tad premature; Thorgan is only on the eve of his 22nd birthday but he has all the hallmarks of a very promising talent. Brother Eden has already shown his qualities to the world and continues to improve under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho. Eden is arguably the most talented player in the Premier League and already has over half a century of caps for Belgium, despite only recently turning 24. Thorgan has also represented the Belgian national team and is currently on-loan at Borussia Monchengladbach, from parent & his brothers club, Chelsea.
12 Hamit & Halil - Altintop
You would do well to tell Hamit and Halil Altintop apart based on appearances, but of the identical twins, Hamit is generally considered the more esteemed on the football pitch. Born in West Germany, of Turkish descent, both began their careers at Wattenscheid 09 and both left in 2003. Hamit has gone on to play for Schalke, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Galatasaray; whilst Halil has since featured for Kaiserslautern, Schalke, Frankfurt, Trabzonspor and Augsburg. Hamit is also the more decorated of the two, having won two Bundesliga titles, one La Liga title and 1 Turkish Super Lig, among other less esteemed trophies. Hamit was also awarded with the 2010 FIFA Puskas Award, given to the player deemed to have scored the best goal in world football that year.
11 Jerome & Kevin Prince - Boateng
Jerome and Kevin Prince Boateng are an unusual case in sibling football, as Jerome decided to represent Germany at international level, whilst Kevin Prince opted to go with Ghana. They became the first brothers to play against each other in a World Cup when Ghana faced Germany at the 2010 South Africa World Cup. Both have had successful careers with plenty of playing time left to run. K-P Boateng is perhaps the more difficult brother to analyse; a mercurial talent, he has his middle name 'Prince' brandished across the back of his shirt and has often flattered to deceive in a career which has seen him turn out for Tottenham, AC Milan and currently, Schalke. Jerome is a right-back and center-back who has been at German champions Bayern Munich since 2011 and won a World Cup with Germany last summer.
10 Diego & Gabriel - Milito
Diego and Gabriel Milito played together at Real Zaragoza before earning their respective big moves. Diego headed to Inter Milan in 2009 where he won an incredible treble with the club, scoring twice in the Champions League final to add the European trophy to their domestic double. Gabriel was signed by Barcelona in 2007, and although he wasn't a permanent fixture, he played 75 games for Barca winning two La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies. Both brothers played for Argentina, with Diego earning 25 caps in an extremely competitive front line and Gabriel winning 42. Diego was voted UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2010 whilst Gabriel won Argentine player of the year in 2002.
9 Ronald & Erwin - Koeman
Ronald and Erwin Koeman are another example of a good footballer whose brother was an exceptional footballer. Erwin had an impressive career with PSV, Groningen and Mechelen, winning seven titles over the course of his career, most notably a UEFA Super Cup in 1988. He won 31 caps for the Netherlands and was a part of their victorious 1988 European Championship winning squad, alongside his brother. Ronald also played for Groningen and PSV, although he played for Ajax, Barcelona and Feyenoord as well. He won the Eredevise title four times, along with a European Cup at Ajax but was at the peak of his powers at Barcelona where he won four La Liga titles and another European Cup. Ronald currently manages at Premier League Southampton, where he employs Erwin as his assistant manager.
8 Fabio & Paolo - Cannavaro
Fabio Cannavaro won two Coppa Italia's, one UEFA Cup, two La Ligas, a Spanish Supercopa, an Italian Supercoppa, captained his side to a World Cup win, won a Ballon d'Or and a FIFA Player of the Year Award. All this meant it was unlikely brother Paolo would ever succeed his decorated sibling. The 33-year-old has had a very respectable career in his own right though, becoming a regular fixture in the Napoli defense for eight years, during which time he did win one Coppa Italia. He has been called up to the Italian national team but never got on the pitch, unlike Fabio who made 136 appearances for Italy. Paolo is currently playing for relative Serie A newcomers Sassuolo, whilst Fabio is managing in China.
7 Yaya & Kolo - Toure
Yaya is one of the most complete and distinguished midfielders in the game today, and whilst Kolo's career has somewhat petered out he is still on the books at Liverpool and has had a terrific career. Exceptional at Arsenal, Kolo was at the heartbeat of Arsenal's defense in their 2003-04 undefeated Premier League title win, and when Manchester City first flexed their financial muscles they signed Kolo for £14 million. He retired from international football last month with 118 caps for the Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, Yaya impressed for both Monaco and Barcelona before moving to his brother's former club where he has become integral in establishing Manchester City as a force in world football.
6 Frank & Ronald - de Boer
With most of the siblings on this list there is one obviously superior brother, even if both are of great quality, but with these two it's a little more difficult to split them apart. It proved equally difficult to split them apart throughout their playing careers, as they played together at Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers. As such, their list of honors is rather similar, both winning five Eredevise titles, one Champions League, one Super Cup and one La Liga, although Ronald added an SPL title which Frank did not, joining Rangers a year later. Ronald played 67 times for the Netherlands whilst Frank picked up an even more impressive 112 caps. Frank is currently the Ajax manager, whilst Ronald is part of the coaching staff.
5 Gary & Phil - Neville
Gary and Phil Neville both emerged from the legendary Manchester United 'class of 92' and both went on to have great careers at Old Trafford. Gary was generally regarded as the more gifted of the pair and he spent his entire career with Manchester United, making over 400 appearances, and captaining the side for five years in his 19-year career. Meanwhile, Phil played 263 games for Manchester United before moving to Everton, where he spent eight years playing under David Moyes. Between them they won 14 Premier League titles, six FA Cups, three Champions League's and two League Cups. Gary played 85 times for England, whilst Phil received 59 caps for the national team.
4 Franco & Giuseppe - Baresi
Turned down by his brother's club and major rivals, Inter Milan, Franco Baresi joined AC Milan, where he would go on to become a club legend. Giuseppe played almost 400 games for Inter Milan before spending two years at Modena, he captained Inter for four of his 16 years at the club. He was also a member of Italy's Euro 1980 and 1986 World Cup squads, featuring alongside Franco in the 1980 tournament on home soil. Despite a prestigious career, Giuseppe became known as 'the other Baresi', such was the success of Franco. As AC Milan captain, Franco won six Serie A titles, three Champions Leagues and three Super Cups, making over 700 appearances for the Italian giants.
3 Bobby & Jack - Charlton
Bobby and Jack Charlton both featured in the famous 1966 England World Cup winning team and both had equally successful club careers. Bobby, a Manchester United legend, survived the horrific Munich air disaster and played almost his entire career at Old Trafford, before a brief spell with Preston North End. Bobby won a Ballon d'Or the year England won the World Cup, as well as three First Division titles, one FA Cup and one European Cup. Jack was one-club man, spending his entire career at Leeds United where he won the First Division once, coming second five times and winning the FA Cup once.
2 Rai & Socrates - Souza Vieira de Oliveira
Widely regarded as one of the finest midfield players to ever play the game, it was never going to be easy for Rai to match the dizzying heights set by his older brother Socrates. Despite this, he had an outstanding career, spending six years at Sao Paulo and five years at PSG, before a season-long return to Brazil. Rai won five Brazilian league titles, one in France and a World Cup in 1994. Socrates could not lay claim to having won a World Cup but he is still considered the more gifted of the pair. With a doctorate in medicine and an iconic look, Socrates became the image of coolness in football and scored 22 goals from midfield in 60 games for Brazil.
1 Brian & Michael - Laudrup
Brian Laudrup would be regarded as the finest player in Denmark's history, if it weren't for his pesky older brother Michael. Brian was named Denmark Footballer of the Year on four occasions (more than any other player), winning trophies in Denmark, Italy, Germany and Scotland in a career which saw him turn out for the likes of Bayern Munich, Fiorentina, AC Milan, Rangers, Chelsea and Ajax, he was also nominated for three Ballon d'Ors. Brother Michael though, was even more impressive, winning five La Liga titles, a Serie A title, an Eredevise title, a European Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and more. He played his best football at Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona, although he also played for Brondby, Lazio and Ajax, among others. He was in the Ballon d'Or top 10 voting on four occasions and was named the best foreign player to play in Spain between the years 1974 and 1999.