The guys on this list have kept soccer – or football – in the family. For these guys, soccer has always been their passion, their lifelong dream to take to the soccer field, put in sublime performances and win plenty of accolades in the process. A lot of these guys have achieved this goal and won something or other during their respective careers. In many cases, more than one child in the same family has accomplished these feats.
Sibling rivalry exists – those who have siblings can testify to that. It can take many forms; things can either turn bitter between the siblings or a healthy competition can take shape. Sisters often want to emulate sisters and brothers look to their older brothers to lead the way. It often means that siblings grow up doing the same kind of things – joining the same clubs, having the same hobbies, playing the same sport, etc... That’s what happened with these guys. In some instances, it’s the older brother who goes on to taste more success in soccer; other times, the younger brother gets all the accolades. Either way, it can be pretty infuriating for the sibling left in the shadows.
From childhood days playing in the streets to earning a ton of money playing in front of thousands of adoring fans, it must truly be an amazing feeling for these guys to have made it to the big time. It must also be crazy when more than one child in the family lands on the same team, or on the opposing team. These are the top 15 soccer players – some whose playing days are long gone, others who are still pro soccer players – who were much better than their siblings.
15 Yaya Touré (Brother, Kolo)
The 35-year-old Kolo – the elder of the Touré brothers – is now winding down in Scotland with Celtic in the latter stages of his career. Kolo has played for some big clubs in his time and was once considered to be among the best defenders in the world. He’s spent most of his time with big English clubs, like Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal. He was a stalwart defender during the Gunner’s 03–04 "invincibles" year.
But 33-year-old Yaya makes his brother’s career seem mediocre. The central bullish midfielder is captain of the Ivorian national team, but really rose to fame when he joined Man City. He played on the same team as Kolo for a few years, but it was Yaya who shone and really made the Etihad Stadium his home. He had a number of stints as captain – an appointment that was justified as he really endeared himself to the fans with his work ethic and sublime ingenuity – pulling the strings from midfield and bossing the game in a way that only Yaya can.
14 Granit Xhaka (Brother, Taulant)
The Xhaka family decided to do what was best for their soon-to-be children and emigrated from Kosovo to Switzerland shortly before the elder Taulant was born. They escaped their war-torn country in favor of Switzerland and it was here the Xhaka boys started rising through the ranks in the Basel youth soccer teams.
Granit Xhaka made a name for himself for Switzerland in the UEFA Euro 2016 Championships. He impressed and many big clubs were eager to sign him, and he went with Arsenal. His Arsenal career is still in its infancy – he’s still settling into life at the Emirates – but announced his arrival in style with a 25-yard thunderbolt in September 2016 against Hull City. Granit’s still young, but his career’s definitely going places.
Before the 2016 Euros, not many people were aware that Granit had an elder brother. People were starting to rave about the young Granit, but when Switzerland opened their campaign against Albania, Granit came up against his brother, Taulant. The Xhakas are Kosovo Albanians, and Taulant decided to represent Algeria. It was a touching moment to see their mom in the crowd wearing a t-shirt depicting the two nations. Incidentally, Xhaka was voted man of the match in that contest.
Taulant still plays in Switzerland for Basel – where it all started – but it’s Granit who has made headlines, and whose career seems to be going places.
13 Jérôme Boateng (Brother, Kevin-Prince)
The Boatengs are a soccer family through and through. Jerome and Kevin-Prince are half-brothers, and they’re both quality players, but it’s Jerome who is still tasting success, whereas the Prince seems to have become the pauper of late.
Both are German-Ghanaian; both rose through the ranks with Germany’s youth sides – Jerome chose to represent his national team but Kevin-Prince chose Ghana.
The Boatengs are renowned for being flashy on and off the pitch – no surprise there with a name like Kevin-Prince. However, Jerome is the more solid of the two, and in this instance, it’s held him in good stead. He’s a permanent fixture of the German national team and for Bayern Munich, whereas the flamboyant Kevin-Prince recently left Milan for Spanish side Unión Deportiva Las Palmas – no disrespect to the La Liga side, but that’s a big step down for someone of Kevin-Prince’s stature. The magic that Kevin-Prince seemingly once possessed seems to be waning, whereas Jerome is still as solid as ever.
12 Bobby Charlton (Brother, Jack)
Here’s a blast from the past. Everyone knows about Sir Robert "Bobby" Charlton – recognized as one of the greatest midfielders of all time. He ruled the soccer world in the 1960s. He won the coveted Ballon d'Or – an award that today swaps hands between Messi and Ronaldo – and won a World Cup with England in 1966 – the nation’s one and only world cup trophy success. He's also won numerous accolades with Man United. His attacking prowess, killer instinct in front of goal and his ability to dictate play from midfield has meant that his name will forever be etched in history as one of the greatest ever midfielders.
Bobby’s elder brother Jack wasn’t quite so successful – not in comparison to his brother anyway. He was a defender, so had to be content with doing the hard yards at the back, and he was a pretty decent one at that. Jack was also part of England’s World Cup winning side, but aside from that, his accomplishments paled in comparison to his brother’s. Part of the reason for this was that Jack played defense, but also because he spent his entire career at Leeds United, whereas Bobby was making waves with the more prominent club in Manchester.
11 Gary Neville (Brother, Phil)
The Neville brothers had a more than decent time of it during their playing days with Manchester United. Under Sir Alex Ferguson they flourished – the older Gary certainly more than Phil.
Today, their playing days are long behind them, but it’s Gary who’ll be remembered as a Man United great. He spent is his entire career at Old Trafford – youth and senior career – and was a permanent fixture of the England national set up for over a decade and won a ton of titles during this time. He is without a doubt one of the most decorated defenders in the game, ever.
Phil, on the other hand, was always in his brother’s shadow. He too spent the majority of his playing career at United. He spent a decade with the club before finishing his career at Everton. Phil was a decent player, but not a player of the same calibre as Gary. He still had a successful time of it; managers loved having him in the squad because of his ability to play in different positions. He was a bit of a jack of all trades in that respect, but in comparison to his brother? Well, there really is no comparison – Gary comes out on top.
10 Fabio Cannavaro (Brother, Paolo)
In the soccer-mad nation of Italy, becoming Italy's second all-time appearance holder is a major achievement. Fabio Cannavaro not only did this, but also made the most appearances as Italy’s captain – a stalwart defender and leader if ever there was one, leading by example. The world became aware of Cannavaro when he led Italy to a 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph in Germany. During this time, he became known as “The Berlin Wall” for his awe-inspiring defensive performances. That same World Cup-winning year, he won the FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award – an amazing achievement for a defender. The elder Cannavaro will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
Young brother Paolo, on the other hand, isn’t half the defender his brother was. He hasn’t represented his national team, and has spent his entire domestic career in Italy, where he’s flitted around quite a bit. His eight-year stint with Napoli, during which he won the Coppa Italia in 2012, is undoubtedly his best achievement in soccer, but this title’s pretty insignificant when you compare it to Fabio’s accomplishments.
9 Ronald Koeman (Brother, Erwin)
The Koemans have soccer in their blood. Ronald, now manager of Everton, spent his 17-year playing career with Dutch clubs and at Barcelona. Then there’s elder brother Erwin, who stayed playing in the Netherlands before joining his younger brother as an assistant coach of Everton. Their dad, Martin Koeman, is also a well-known figure in Dutch football, having played in the Dutch leagues for just under 20 years.
Ronald is by far and away the best Koeman, in terms of both his accomplishments on the pitch and in the dugout as a manager. He made 535 senior appearances scoring 193 goals – not bad for a guy who generally played on defense. Add to that his 14 goals and 78 caps for country, and he had an impressive playing record. As a player, Ronald’s probably best remembered for his days with the mighty Barcelona. He spent six years with the club, becoming a fixture of Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team." He was on the side that won the Spanish La Liga title four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and won numerous other titles.
Erwin, on the other hand, was capped 31 times by country; he won the UEFA European Championship in 1988 with Holland – his most major accomplishment.
It must sting a tad to have your younger brother surpass you in so many ways. Even now, Ronald’s helping him out – he brought Erwin with him to the UK and appointed him assistant manager of his Southampton and now Everton side.
8 Rafael da Silva (Brother, Fabio)
Both the da Silva twins haven’t become world beaters yet, but the good thing is that they still have age on the side, being just 26. Strangely enough, as twins, their careers seemed to have been mirroring each other’s at one stage.
Both began their youth careers with Brazilian side Fluminense FC before starting off at senior level at Man United. Perhaps they went to the big club too soon. It was a baptism of fire for the twins, and somehow they managed to stay at the club for a number of years – Fabio for six years and Rafael for seven. They’ve also both been capped twice for the Brazilian national side.
Full-back Fabio only made a handful of appearance – 22 appearances in six years at United. He’s since gone on to play for QPR, Cardiff City and is currently with newly-promoted Middlesbrough in the English Premier League. However, as of yet, he’s only made a single appearance with the club and needs to do something in order to revive his fledgling career.
Twin bro Rafael, on the other hand, has had a better time of it. His versatility as a right-back and on the right side of midfield meant that he was capped over 100 times for Man United. He’s currently in France with Lyon, and unlike his brother, he’s getting a bit more of a look in, although he’s still looking to establish himself as a permanent fixture of his club side.
7 Filippo Inzaghi (Brother, Simone)
Filippo Inzaghi was renowned for being one of the most prolific goal scorers of all time. He played for numerous clubs in Italy before his career really took off with AC Milan, which he joined in 2001 in what ended up being a 12-year stint. Over the course of his career, he won a couple of UEFA Champions League titles, won numerous domestic league titles, and won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. His goal scoring prowess has won him numerous accolades, including as one of the best strikers in the world -- certainly in Europe, most specifically in Italy.
Younger brother Simone was also a striker, but not of the same caliber as Filippo. He did score 53 goals in in 240 club appearances – a fairly decent goal scoring average in those days before the current crop of strikers came along – and he represented his country three times, but unless you watched the lowly sides of Italian football, it’s unlikely you would have known or heard much about Simone.
6 Xabi Alonso (Brother, Mikel)
Xabi Alonso is one of the best central midfielders in the game and is still going strong. After a successful five-year spell at Liverpool, the top clubs in Europe all wanted to get Xabi on board. At Liverpool, the Spanish midfielder became everything the club stood for. However, an offer from the biggest club on the planet – Real Madrid – couldn’t be turned down, and he spent another five-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, the most successful period – in terms of trophies won – in his career. The playmaker is now making waves in Germany with Bayern Munich and looks to be in the process of winding down after a long and illustrious career.
A lot of Xabi fans probably have no clue that he even has a brother, but he does – an older brothernamed Mikel, who is also a midfielder and has had a very average career. The Alonso brothers couldn’t be more different from each other; Xabi is one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world, while Mikel has spent his entire career playing with, let’s face it, pretty average clubs in comparison.
5 Rio Ferdinand (Brother, Anton)
Rio Ferdinand was a stalwart central defender for Man United and the English national side. When he hung up his boots in 2015, Ferdinand had already etched his name in the record books as one of England’s most decorated players. He started his career at West Ham, but it was at Man U under Ferguson’s watchful eye that he flourished and made a name for himself. After 312 United appearance, and with 81 international caps, and Rio’s undoubtedly one of England’s greatest ever defenders.
Younger brother Anton is still playing, but at the moment, he’s just thankful to any team that gives him a shot. After starting off a promising career at West Ham, things went south when he left the club in 2008. Unlike his big bro, Anton is a leaky defender. Perhaps it’s because of the teams on which he's played, but he certainly doesn’t have his brother’s solid defensive capabilities.
4 Eden Hazard (Brother, Thorgan)
Eden Hazard is widely regarded to be one of the most talented individuals in the world, but talent means nothing if you don’t show it off and harness it correctly. Thankfully for Chelsea, Hazard has started to realize and fulfill his potential.
The attacking midfielder loves going on mazy runs, leaving defenders for dead – not to mention he’s an amazing passer. He’s put in some sublime performances of late – performances that earn him a mention in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo as a possible FIFA Ballon d'Or winner.
Eden is still young at 25 and is the eldest of four brothers, all of whom play football. For the sake of this article, we’re going to draw upon comparisons with 23-year-old Thorgan. Thorgan, also an attacking midfielder, will probably be the other Hazard with whom most of you are familiar. He joined his brother at Chelsea in 2012, although he only made a single appearance. He’s currently with the German club, Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he looks to be settling in nicely.
Thorgan, at 23, still has plenty of time to learn and flourish, but at the moment, he’s not of the same caliber of attacking midfielder as his brother. Since they both play in the same position, it’s easy to make comparisons. One is on course to become the best player in the world, whereas the other is still finding his feet. Let’s see how it pans out in years to come – Thorgan might also develop into a world-beater in the coming years!
3 Shola Ameobi (Brother, Sammy)
At 35, Shola’s career looks to be winding down. In fact, he hasn’t really been able to find his feet since he left Newcastle in 2014.
Shola’s undoubtedly a Newcastle great. He’s a striker, not on the same level as Alan Shearer, but a fan favorite nevertheless. He spent five years at youth level with Newcastle before being promoted to the senior ranks in 2000. Fourteen years and 312 appearance later, he etched his name into the Newcastle history books.
A striker’s judged on his goals, and Shola scored 53 of them during his time with Newcastle. That’s about one goal in six games – a pretty decent goal scoring ratio at the time, especially considering he was most often called upon as a substitute.
His younger brothers Tomi and Sammy are also professional footballers. Sammy is considerably younger than Shola – he’s 24 – and was actually born in Newcastle after the family followed Shola to the city.
Sammy began his youth career with Newcastle as a 16-year-old. Then, like his brother, he was promoted to the first team. Sammy’s currently with Bolton Wanderers; however, he’s on loan and is still a contracted Newcastle player and has been for his entire career. As winger, Sammy hasn’t yet been a success at Newcastle. His sporadic appearances with the club meant that they’ve sent him out on loan to get some experience under his belt. He’s still young, so still has plenty of time to flourish, although it’s unlikely he’ll reach the same heights as his brother in Newcastle upon Tyne.
2 Paul Pogba (Brother, Florentin)
One of the best and definitely the most expensive players in the world, Paul made headlines when he returned to Manchester United this summer– he had a brief spell at the club in 2011 and eclipsed Gareth Bale’s record transfer fee to Madrid. He moved to United from Juventus for an all-time record for highest football transfer fee at €105 million. People knew he was good, but this caused many to raise their eyebrows.
But those who watch the Serie A in Italy will know of Pogba’s capabilities. He spent four years with Juventus, and that’s really where he made a name for himself. He’s versatile as a central midfielder, is happy to go back and help out the defense and is great going forward, and possesses bullish strength, which he uses to make waves from midfield.
Amazingly, considering all he’s achieved, Paul’s only 23. He has two twin brothers who both play professionally. Mathias is a striker currently playing for Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch Eredivisie. His other brother, Florentin, is with Saint-Étienne in France’s Ligue 1.
As a defender, Florentin hasn’t been able to find his feet and remain with a club long enough for him to make any headway. He’s currently in the wilderness, recovering from a horrific injury he sustained while on international duty. A few years of his short career have gone down the drain and he’s now struggling to get on the pitch and play regularly.
1 Luis Suarez (Brother, Paolo)
Controversy follows Luis around like the plague, but on the pitch, he’s one of the most destructive – for the opposition that is – strikers in the world. He’s strong, bullish going forward and pulls off some remarkable feats on the pitch, but he only has eyes for the net and has netted some sublime finishes throughout the course of his career. He impressed and became known to the masses at Liverpool, where he scored 69 times in 110 appearances. In 2014, he moved to Barcelona, and after a quiet start to his career at the Nou Camp, he’s gone on to decimate all those in his way, forming the most formidable attacking trio – with Neymar and Messi – in world football. With 64 goals in 73 appearances for Barca, it’s easy to see why. Add to that his record-scoring feats for Uruguay and he’s undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world.
With Suarez being so recognized throughout the world, his elder brother, Paolo has continued with his playing career unnoticed. To be fair, there wasn’t much to notice anyway. Seven years Luis’ senior, Paolo has been making the rounds for 20 years, but hasn’t achieved anything of note. He’s played for a host of different clubs, has notched up plenty of caps, but isn’t in the same league as his little bro.