There are a lot of prominent footballing families out there. It’s not that surprising; kids want to emulate the feats of their dads, do what they love doing in the backyard on the pitch in front of thousands of screaming supporters. These youngsters see what their dads have done before them and want that same level of fame and glory.
It can be tough following in the footsteps of a family member who’s already a world-renowned superstar in the game. Since you’re related, people assume that you’ll be an instant success on the football pitch, that some of the predecessor's footballing prowess would have rubbed off on you. But it takes time to acclimate to the professional game – some people just aren’t that patient.
Plenty of footballers have arrived on the scene, carved out careers for themselves and have quickly gone on to surpass their relatives in terms of their success, fan following and on-field accomplishments. The Maldini family is one such family that comes to mind – one of the biggest and best footballing families in Italian and world football. The Schmeichels are another prominent family – Kasper is now following in his dad’s footsteps and is winning titles in the PL.
There’s recently been a bit of a buzz about father-son footballing families. Enzo Fernández – son of French legend, Zinedine Zidane – made his debut for Real Madrid a couple of months ago; his dad brought him on in a Copa del Rey clash. Enzo is still a baby in terms of his footballing career, so who knows how his career will pan out. But the guys on this list are already well known and have flopped miserably – when making comparisons to their dads, that is.
These are 15 players who have failed to live up to their family’s footballing legacy – who will always be in their father’s shadow and just be known as the son of a great player.
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Pele is regarded to be the greatest player to have ever stepped foot on the football pitch. Even now, well into retirement, he’s a global footballing icon and uses his fame and popularity to contribute to philanthropic causes.
Why was Pele so good? As a striker, he mesmerized defenders and his goal scoring prowess was second to none. Watching Pele go about his stuff would put smiles on faces – it's because of Pele that the term "The Beautiful Game" began to be associated with football. He’s scored the most goals of all time; when adding together all his goals from all the competitions in which he played, the total comes to a staggering 1,281 goals in 1,363 games. Poor Edinho – it’s little wonder he had a hard time trying to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
It’s puzzling, that with his dad being the greatest striker that’s ever lived, Edinho decided to become a goalkeeper. Actually it could have been a very ingenious decision – comparisons can’t really be made between a goalkeeper and striker. But between the sticks, Edinho didn’t have a very successful time of it. He never settled with one club – he moved about quite a bit before retiring at the young age of 29. He never won anything either and only made 200 senior club appearances.
14 Mads Laudrup
Michael Laudrup is regarded to be one of the greatest playmakers of all time. He was a highly talented player going forward; he had the tactical nous – something which he’s now sharing during his managerial career – was versatile, was a work horse, lightning quick, skillful and was a very graceful player – just a joy to watch in his heyday. He also won plenty of titles too during his time with some of the world’s top teams – Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus.
His son Mads, on the other hand, has had a pretty mediocre time of it to date. He played in the same position as his father but didn’t enjoy anywhere near the amount of success his dad did. He moved around quite a bit too – eight clubs in a ten-year career. It's no wonder he never found his feet in the professional game. He also didn’t get much game time. No wonder he became discouraged and chose to hang up his boots at the age of 26. The son of Denmark's Best Ever Player was one of the country’s worst.
13 Paul Dalglish
King Kenny is a Scottish and English football Hall of Fame inductee, and deservedly so. During the course of his 22-year playing career, Kenny only ever played for two clubs – Celtic and Liverpool – and he gained plenty of achievements with both. He was also a permanent fixture in the Scottish national team throughout the '70s and '80s, scoring goals for fun. Due to his goal-scoring prowess, Kenny’s regarded to be one of the greatest strikers in British football, something which his son tried and failed to emulate.
Paul Dalglish retired in 2008 having netted 22 times in 206 club appearances. That’s a pretty dire goal scoring record, considering he played up front. His career was plagued by injuries, but even so, he never possessed the skills his dad did going forward. Paul does, however, have one up on his dad when comparing their respective managerial careers. Kenny’s coaching career was pretty diabolical; Paul, on the other hand, has been pretty successful coaching in the U.S. leagues and has won numerous titles while in management. At least Paul has bragging rights in that regard.
12 Bradley Wright-Phillips
If you know anything about English football, you’ll know of Ian Wright. While he was still playing, he caused shivers down the spines of defenders due to his ability on the ball and his knack for scoring goals from seemingly impossibly positions. He was one of the best strikers in the game – certainly one of the best in the PL, where he ruled the roost with Arsenal for seven years.
Today, Ian’s still a regular face on our TV screens. His broadcasting career’s been very successful and he’s much loved for his punditry work.
As much as he was loved on the pitch, Ian’s also renowned for getting around a bit – jumping from one woman to the next. He has eight kids! Two of his kids, Shaun and Bradley, are footballers. Shaun – his adopted son – was actually a pretty decent player, playing on the wing for a number of prominent clubs in the PL before winding down his career in the MLS with New York Red Bulls. Bradley, on the other hand, is nowhere near as good. He plays in his dad’s position, but unlike his dad, didn’t have a great time of it in English football. That’s why he decided to make the move, and like his brother, come to the U.S. and join the Red Bulls. He has actually had a decent time of it in the MLS, but – no disrespect to the MLS – he has to make it work in the PL or the world’s other top footballing leagues to be regarded as a great striker like his father.
11 Jordi Cruyff
Here’s a blast from the past; a lot of you probably don’t know much about Johan, but he’s regarded to be one of the world’s greatest ever players. The Dutch international was a forward and playmaker who took great pleasure in decimating opponents with his striking abilities. He single-handedly propelled Dutch football onto the world stage, transforming the team into a world-class powerhouse. He’s regarded to be Europe’s first footballing superstar, and many put him behind only Pele and Maradona in the world game. It was therefore always going to be hard for Jordi to replicate his father’s success.
To be fair, he didn’t have a dreadful time of it, but still fell well short of living up to his family’s footballing legacy. Jordi played for a multitude of different teams, including the likes of Barcelona and Man United, but never settled and was constantly moving about to different clubs. But he was versatile; he could play in the middle of the park or as a striker , which was part of the reason clubs picked him up. His only major accomplishment was getting to the 2001 UEFA Cup Final with Spanish side, Deportivo Alavés. Aside from that, there was nothing worth mentioning.
10 Tom Ince
Paul Ince played for a number of high-profile teams during the course of his 21-year career. He won numerous accolades with Man United, and was a stalwart in midfield for the England national team during the '90s. Once retired from the game after a spell as player-manager at Macclesfield Town, he then embarked on a full-time managerial career, which included managing Blackburn Rovers who were in the top flight at the time.
Ince has stardom in his family; he’s uncle to singer and TV personality Rochelle Humes, his cousin is the former super-middleweight boxer Nigel Benn, and his other cousin is Clayton Ince, who plays in goal for Trinidad. His son, Tom, is also in the game, but he certainly hasn’t achieved any level of stardom yet. He’s moved around quite a bit since he made his professional debut in 2010, but hasn’t really settled or gained any reasonable amount of playing time in the PL. His career seems to be stagnant; he needs to get picked up by a PL team in order for us to even begin to draw comparisons between him and his dad.
9 Jamie Redknapp
Harry Redknapp’s famous today for his managerial career; he’s managed seven different teams and was once in line to take the England job. What a lot of you probably didn’t know is that he actually had quite a decent time of it on the pitch too. His most notable spells in midfield were in the '60s and '70s, during which he put in over 100 appearances for both West Ham and Bournemouth.
His son, Jamie Redknapp, played in the same position as his dad. He did make over 300 appearances for English clubs, in addition to being capped 17 times for England, but it has to be said that his career was mediocre, to say the least. He is a more than decent pundit, though, and regularly appears on TV sports shows.
8 Darren Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson is regarded by many to be one of the greatest managers of all time. He was at the helm of Man United for a staggering 26 years, during which he won 38 trophies, including a couple of Champions League titles. But he was also a more than decent player too. He spent his playing career in his native Scotland, playing as a striker, and he amassed a very impressive goal tally, scoring 171 times in 317 appearances.
Darren only got into football because of his father. Sir Alex brought him into the ranks at Man United, but even he couldn’t really play him too often, as he just wasn’t Man United material. In four years with United, he only made 27 appearances before he moved on to spend the rest of his career with lower league sides.
7 Alex Bruce
Steve Bruce is another guy who’s today probably better known for his managerial career than for what he did on the pitch those many years ago. But Steve was also an impressive footballer, playing at centre-back for a number of English teams and gaining plenty of accolades in the process. His most noteworthy stint on the pitch was with Man United; he played for United 309 times and won plenty, including the Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup. Stunningly, he never gained an international cap and ended his career as one of the best ever players not to be called up by England.
Alex Bruce is in the latter stages of his career, although he’s only just found his feet. He’s had stints with numerous different clubs, but constantly keeps getting shifted about; Alex had a decent spell at Ipswich, and is now settling into things at the back with Hull City. But considering he made his debut 13 years ago, his time on the pitch has been sporadic and he hasn’t played for any clubs in the same league as Man United – as his dad did. As a defender, Alex can do a job, but he’s not the same caliber defender as his dad was.
6 Niko Kranjcar
Former Croatian striker, Zlatko Kranjcar, was one of the best in the business during the 70s and 80s. He spent the majority of his career with Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna, where he made a name for himself as one of the best strikers in Europe. His goal-scoring to game ratio was impressive for those times; 206 goals in 474 appearances – but in today’s game, even his son, Niko, is finding it tough to emulate his dad’s success.
Niko has played for some decent clubs during the course of his career, his most notable spells being with Portsmouth and Tottenham. But he hasn’t tasted anywhere near the same level of success that his dad enjoyed. He seemed to be doing well at Tottenham, but was let go after a few seasons and has since been struggling to find any sort of form.
5 Daley Blind
After starting his career in the Dutch league with Ajax, Daley Blind made the move to Old Trafford, where he’s been ever since. His first season with United was curtailed by injury, but he’s now been putting in steady performances and has become Jose Mourinho’s first choice at left back. He’s a pretty decent player in the PL – a hard worker and strong presence in defense – but isn’t yet of the same caliber as his dad.
Daley’s dad, Danny Blind, is a Dutch footballing legend. He spent his entire 20-year career playing in the Dutch leagues, making 537 appearances as a defender. His time with Sparta and Ajax brought him and his clubs plenty of success, and he ended his career being one of only two Dutch players to have won every single UEFA club competition. He’s now head coach of the Dutch national side, although he’s not doing too well at the moment. Hopefully, his managerial career doesn’t undo all the work he did on the pitch and ruin his name.
4 Diego Sinagra
Simply put, Diego Maradona is one of the best footballers to have ever played the beautiful game. His all-round ability, including vision, dribbling, lightening pace, tactical nous and ruthlessness in front of goal – in addition to many other superlatives – meant that The Golden Boy was just that. We’d need another article in order to list all of Maradona’s accomplishments, so you can imagine how hard it’d be to try and follow in his footsteps – an impossible endeavor.
His son, Diego Sinagra - Diego Armando Maradona Junior – discovered this the hard way. Amazingly, he wasn’t actually recognized as Maradona’s son until a few months ago. Maradona addressed the media and said, “I love him and he’s very much like me.” Perhaps they look alike, but in terms of their playing styles, they couldn’t be more different. Sinagra spent his entire career playing in the amateur leagues of Italian football. He moved around quite a bit but never enjoyed any decent amount of game time. He made 14 appearances for Venafro – that’s the most number of appearances he’s made for any of his clubs. Since 2005, he’s scored 22 goals – a dire goal-scoring record, considering he’s a striker. No wonder he moved onto beach soccer before walking away from the game in 2012 while still in his mid-20s.
3 Danny Greaves
Jimmy Greaves is renowned for being England’s forth highest goal scorer, for scoring the most goals for Tottenham, and for netting the most times in English top-flight football. He also scored six hat-tricks for England – the most by any player – and netted 44 times in 57 appearances for his country. He finished his club career having scored 386 goals in 566 games – it’s, therefore, no mystery as to why he’s in the English Football Hall of Fame. His record in front of goal was just staggering – English football has never seen anyone else quite like Jimmy Greaves. When his son, Danny, decided to make a go of it at pro level, it was always going to be a tall order.
But Danny’s time in professional football was miserable – he failed to make any sort of impression. Danny’s career and his dad’s were just poles apart. Jimmy was one of the world’s best strikers, while Danny was one of the worst. His career was short-lived – it lasted only four years – during which he scored 15 goals. It’s little wonder he decided to pack it in and try his hand at management, but that wasn’t a success either.
2 Stephan Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer is a legend in German football. His career spanned almost two decades and he was capped 103 times for West Germany. Franz played the role of a sweeper brilliantly and consequently achieved plenty of accolades. He’s a two-time European Footballer of the Year, won the World Cup as a player, then manager, and is regarded to be one of the world’s greatest ever footballers due to his versatility on the pitch, leadership skills, and supreme lazy elegance on the ball.
As for his son Stephan, his career couldn’t have been more different. He spent the majority of his career in the lower leagues of German football, spending time playing in reserve squads. He had a tough time trying to progress to the first team senior ranks, and eventually gave up and retired at the young age of 28. Stephan then moved into coaching, but his stint as Bayern Munich’s Youth Coach was tragically cut short in 2015 when he died after battling a long illness.
1 Charlie Sheringham
Teddy Sheringham is best known for his spells at Man United and Tottenham, during which he became a very popular figure in English football. Amazingly, he continued to play football well into his 40s, and was even a registered player for Stevenage in 2015 at the age of 49.
Sheringham was a successful player due to his versatility going forward. He could play in a number of attacking positions and didn’t mind playing the supporting role as a second striker. He was a creative player with a great footballing brain and terrific goal scoring ability – the complete player and an asset to any side who acquired his services.
His son, Charlie Sheringham, hasn’t quite made it work for himself. He’s spent his entire career in non-league and then league football, and has failed to hit the big time and get picked up by a major team in the top flight. As a striker, his best spell was at Dartford, where he scored 30 times in 46 appearances. Aside from that short stint, there’s nothing boast-worthy and it doesn’t seem as if he’ll be making a big money move to the PL or any other top league in the world anytime soon.
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