Charlie Savage: Ranking the 10 most iconic father-son duos in football

Father son football

Manchester United’s final Champions League group game against Young Boys wasn’t too much to shout about on Wednesday night, as the sides played out a relatively uninspiring 1-1 draw.

With their place in the next round already confirmed, new manager Ralf Rangnick took the opportunity to field a makeshift-looking side, while also handing out a couple of debuts.

Among those stepping onto the Old Trafford pitch for the first time, was 18-year-old Charlie Savage—a moment made even more special by the fact his dad was up in the commentary box to narrate his introduction.

While Robbie himself was never able to break into the United side despite starting his youth career there, he would of course go on to become a Premier League regular, most notably with Leicester and Birmingham.

Below we’ve looked back at some of the other father-son duos who have featured in the game, and ranked them based on their combined number of senior club appearances. Obviously, some inclusions are still notching up those figures, so the numbers used are correct at the time of writing.

Gheorghe Hagi (516 apps) & Ianis Hagi (147 apps) - 663 combined apps

Recognised as one of the greatest players in the world in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Gheorghe Hagi would be affectionately dubbed ‘The Maradona of the Carpathians’—a range of mountains that run through Romania.

While Ianis has one hell of a task to mimic his father, he’s impressed during his early Rangers days, winning the club’s Young Player of the Year Award last season.

Enrico Chiesa (503 apps) & Frederico Chiesa (178 apps) - 681 combined apps

Enrico Chiesa was lauded as a prolific goalscorer right throughout the ‘90s, winning trophies with Sampdoria, Parma and Fiorentina.

His son, Frederico, is coming off the back of a stellar showing at Euro 2020, with many now expecting big things from the 24-year-old too.

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Lilian Thuram (503 apps), Marcus Thuram (173 apps), Khephren Thuram (75 apps) - 751 combined apps

Lilian Thuram still boasts the record for France’s most capped player, making 142 appearances which included a World Cup, Euros and Confederations Cup win.

Marcus is plying his trade in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach, while Khephren is over in Ligue 1, where he’s made 57 appearances to date with Nice.

Danny Blind (537 apps) & Daley Blind (298 apps) - 835 combined apps

Danny Blind’s signing for Ajax famously didn’t go down well with Marco van Basten, who was annoyed that Johan Cruyff had opted for a relatively unknown name. However, in hindsight, his record and reputation with the Dutch giants clearly speaks for itself.

Daley has enjoyed his own fair share of success with Ajax, racking up five Eredivisie titles during his two spells, along with two KNVB Cups and two Johan Cruff Shields.

Mazinho (371 apps), Rafinha (246 apps), Thiago (305 apps) - 922 combined apps

A somewhat unique one, not just because Mazinho has two sons who have gone on to represent some of the biggest clubs in the world, but that they’ve also opted to represent different nations in their playing careers.

Despite being Brazilian-born, Thiago chose to represent Spain after growing up in the country, while Rafinha stuck with Brazil, like his father, who helped the nation to the 1994 World Cup.

Xabi Alonso

Miguel ‘Periko’ Alonso (395 apps) & Xabi Alonso (547 apps) - 942 combined apps

Xabi Alonso’s reputation in the modern games needs little introduction, renowned as one of the classiest midfielders of his generation, his career was consistently littered with trophies.

His father Miguel also enjoyed a good level of success in Spain, becoming an instrumental figure in the heart of Real Sociedad’s back-to-back LaLiga wins in the early ‘80s.

Steve Bruce (737 apps) & Alex Bruce (301 apps) - 1,038 combined apps

During his time with United, Steve Bruce managed a beyond-impressive 12 trophies, and became the first English player of the 20th century to captain his side to the double.

Alex announced his retirement from football last year, though reversed his decision to join Macclesfield in August 2021.

Peter Schmeichel (648 apps) & Kasper Schmeichel (541 apps) - 1,119 combined apps

Both Schmeichels have enjoyed very different journeys, but can each be touted as Premier League legends within their own rights.

Peter cemented his reputation as one of the English game’s most iconic keepers with Manchester United, while Kasper was an integral part of the Leicester side that did the unthinkable in the 15/16 season.

Daniel Maldini celebrates

Cesare Maldini (412 apps), Paolo Maldini (647 apps), Daniel Maldini (11 apps) & Christian Maldini (69 apps) - 1,139 combined apps

It’s hard to imagine there’ll ever be a footballing bloodline quite like the Maldini family.

Cesare and Paolo’s AC Milan legacy is firmly written into the club’s folklore, and 20-year-old Daniel is now attempting to emulate that after making his debut last year. His older brother, Christian, played for Milan at youth level, and has since gone on to play professionally in Italy at a lower level.

Ian Wright (501 apps), Shaun Wright-Phillips (413 apps) & Bradley Wright-Phillips (507 apps) - 1,421 combined apps

After their dad enjoyed huge success in London with Crystal Palace and Arsenal, both Shaun and Bradley Wright-Phillips had a lot to live up to.

While neither managed to hit quite the same heights, both have still built admirable careers. Shaun became a fan-favourite at Manchester City, while his brother featured for Southampton more than 100 times before becoming a fixture at New York Red Bulls over in the States.

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