The 20 best pairs of footballing brothers in history, including World Cup winners, national heroes, and the best defender of all timeby Barnaby Lane
- It is not uncommon in professional football for brothers to both make it all the way to the top.
- Below, Insider has listed the beautiful game’s 20 best ever set of siblings, including the Toures, the Hazards, and the Boatengs.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The chances of becoming a professional footballer are extremely slim.
According to The Telegraph, 90% of youngsters who play for professional academies never make it. If you were to account for every child who at the very least dreamed of being a footballer, that percentage becomes infinitely bigger.
However, when lightening does strike, it’s not rare for it do so twice in the same household.
With that being said, Insider has listed the beautiful game’s 20 best ever set of siblings for you, in no particular order, below.
Gary and Phil Neville
The Premier League’s most famous, and most successful, pair of siblings – the Nevilles were both part of Manchester United’s famous “Class of 92.”
Gary, the elder of the two, made his first team debut for Sir Alex Ferguson’s United in 1992, while Neville made his in 1994. They went on to win six Premier League titles while playing alongside each other at Old Trafford before Phil left for Everton in 2005.
Gary remained at United, picking up a further two Premier League titles. He retired as a one-club man in 2011, having made 602 appearances for the Red Devils, the fifth most of any player in the club’s history.
Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng
Jerome Boateng’s career has, bar one forgettable season at Manchester City, been a picture of consistency.
A regular at Bundesliga side Hamburg in the late 00s, Jerome joined City in 2010 before moving to Bayern Munich just a year later. Since returning to Germany, he’s made over 300 appearances for Bayern, helping it lift seven straight Bundesliga titles.
Kevin-Prince however, who is two years Jerome’s elder, has been a journeyman, spending time with 13 different clubs over the past decade and a half, including FC Barcelona, AC Milan, and Portsmouth.
Interestingly, the pair, despite being half-brothers, represent different nations, with Kevin-Prince representing Ghana, his father’s homeland, and Jerome playing for Germany, where the pair were both born.
Kolo and Yaya Toure
Both Kolo and Yaya Toure are widely considered as Premier League greats.
Kolo made over 300 appearances for Arsenal in the 2000s, and was a key figure of Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” which won the Premier League in 2003/04 without losing a single game. He moved to Manchester City in 2009, where he was joined by his brother a year later, and the pair helped the club win it’s first ever Premier League title in 2011/12.
Kolo left for Liverpool in 2013, however Yaya remained at the Etihad, winning the league title twice more before moving Olympiacos in 2018.
The brothers also lifted the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast in 2015.
Bobby and Jack Charlton
The Charltons are one of only two sets of brothers to have lifted the World Cup together, having done so with England in 1966. (The other was West Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter who won the tournament in 1954.)
Bobby, a forward with an acute eye for goal, scored over 260 goals in his club career, 249 of which came for Manchester United between 1956 and 1973. In 1966, he also became the first Englishman to ever lift the Ballon d’Or.
Jack, a crunching central defender, spent his whole domestic career with Leeds United, with whom he won the English First and Second Division titles, as well as the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Eden and Thorgan Hazard
Chelsea FC signed Belgian brothers Eden and Thorgan Hazard in 2012, the former from LOSC Lille and the latter from RC Lens.
While Eden went on to become a Chelsea legend, scoring over 100 goals and winning two Premier League titles, Thorgan never featured for the club and was sold to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2015.
In five seasons with ‘Gladbach (the first was on-loan), Thorgan hit 46 goals, which earned him a $28 million move to Borussia Dortmund last summer, oddly enough, just a week before Eden left Chelsea for Real Madrid.
Though Blues fans never got to see the pair play together, they regularly feature alongside each other for the Belgium national team.
Erwin and Ronald Koeman
It is Ronald who can claim the bragging rights over his younger brother Erwin in the battle of the Koemans.
Ronald won twice as many caps for the Netherlands as his sibling, while also enjoying a hugely successful spell with FC Barcelona, winning four La Liga titles. Erwin spent his entire career in Holland.
The pair teamed up in football management with Erwin working as Ronald’s assistant during his time in charge of Southampton and Everton, however they’ve since gone separate ways.
Ronald is now the manager of the Dutch national team, and Erwin currently manages the national team of Oman.
Rafinha and Thiago Alcantara
Both Thiago and Rafinha started their professional careers at FC Barcelona, however the pair have gone down distinctly different routes since.
After five seasons at the Camp Nou, most of which were spent warming the bench, Thiago left for Bayern Munich in 2013, where he has since established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders.
Rafinha on the other hand remains at Barcelona, though features only sporadically, and has had loan spells at both Celta Vigo and Inter Milan in recent years.
The brothers also opted to go their separate ways on the international stage, with Thiago choosing to represent Spain, and Rafinha, Brazil.
Fabio and Paolo Cannavaro
Both Cannavaro brothers began their careers at Napoli, before following each other to Parma. Fabio’s career, however, eclipsed that of his younger sibling’s thereafter.
Fabio went on to play for Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus, and in 2006, he became the first ever defender to win the Ballon d’Or after captaining Italy to World Cup glory.
Paolo, on the other hand, moved back to Napoli, where he spent seven further seasons before seeing out his playing days at Sassuolo.
The pair are currently both coaches at Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande.
Filippo and Simone Inzaghi
Both Filippo and Simone Inzaghi were strikers, however one had a much more acute eye for goal than the other.
Filippo, the older of the pair, managed 313 goals throughout his club career during spells with Parma, Atalanta, Juventus and AC Milan, and he hit another 25 for his country. He won three Serie A titles, two Champions Leagues, and the World Cup.
Simone on the other handed managed only 95, most of which came for Lazio and none of which came for Italy. He still won eight major honors, including one Scudetto with Lazio. He has been the club’s manager since 2016.
Frank and Ronald de Boer
Unlike many of the siblings on this list, the De Boer twins actually spent the majority of their career playing alongside each other.
Both rose through the ranks at Ajax and went on to enjoy tremendous success with the Dutch club, winning five Eredivisie titles and a Champions League.
They both moved to FC Barcelona in 1999, and though they only spent one season together at the Camp Nou, they would again be re-united later during spells at Rangers, Al-Rayyan, and Al-Shamal. Isn’t that cute?
Franco and Giuseppe Baresi
Both Baresi brothers tried out for Inter Milan during their youth. Giuseppe made the cut, but Franco was rejected and instead picked up by rivals AC Milan.
Over the course of the next two decades, the pair became cornerstones, and eventually captains, of their respective clubs, with their sibling rivalry becoming a trademark of the Milan derby.
It was Franco – often hailed as the sport’s greatest ever defender – who came out on top more often however, helping Milan pick up seven Serie A titles, while Giuseppe won only two with Inter.
Brian and Michael Laudrup
Michael Laudrup is Denmark’s greatest ever player, having won league titles with Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the European Cup.
It is his younger brother Brian, however, who is most fondly remembered by the Danes, after he guided the country to the most unlikely of European Championship triumphs in 1992. Denmark had only qualified by default after Yugoslavia was disqualified.
Both players had previously ruled themselves out of selection for the tournament after disagreements with head coach Richard Moller Nielsen, but Brian eventually opted to bite the bullet, while Michael chose to go on holiday instead, according to Squawka.
Andre and Jordan Ayew
Two of three-time African Footballer of the Year Abedi “Pele” Ayew’s sons, both Andre and Jordan Ayew have enjoyed successful careers in both France and England, as well as with the Ghanaian national team.
The two were both part of Marseille’s hugely successful squad of the early 2010s, before following each other to England in 2015 – Andre to Swansea and Jordan to Aston Villa.
Andre, the older of the pair by two years, spent one year with Swansea before moving to West Ham United, however returned to the Welsh club in 2017, where he remains to this day.
Jordan spent two years at Villa before moving to Swansea in 2016. Another two seasons later, six months of which was spent with his older sibling, Jordan joined Crystal Palace.
Fabio and Rafael Da Silva
Twins Fabio and Rafael both signed for Manchester United from Brazilian side Fluminese in 2008.
And though they weren’t exactly the poster boys of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the years that followed, they each played their part.
Rafael more so, he made 169 appearances for the club over the next seven seasons, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League. Fabio made just 56 appearances in five years. Nearly half of those came in the 2010 season when he helped United lift the Premier League and the Community Shield.
These days, both are plying their trade in France, Fabio with Nantes, and Rafael with Lyon.
Diego and Gabriel Milito
Diego and Gabriel Milito played together at Spanish side Real Zaragoza between 2005 and 2007, but other than that, the pair spent most of their careers as sworn enemies.
Both players started, and ended, their careers representing opposite sides of Argentina’s famous Avellaneda derby – Diego for Racing Club, and Gabriel for Independiente.
They also faced off on a few occasions while representing Inter Milan and Barcelona, most famously in the 2010 Champions League semi-finals, when Inter prevailed as 3-2 winners over two legs, with Diego scoring once.
Rai and Socrates
Despite Socrates being widely regarded as one of soccer’s greatest ever players, he never enjoyed the same success that his younger brother Rai did.
During his career with Botafogo, Corinthians, Flamengo, and the Brazilian national team, Socrates failed to lift either the Brazilian Serie A title or the World Cup.
Rai however, managed both. He also won France’s Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain.
Rio and Anton Ferdinand
Former West Ham, Leeds, and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand is one of English football’s best ever defenders.
Understandably, people had equally high hopes for his younger sibling, Anton, however things never materialized quite as he would have wished.
The now 35-year-old spent much of his career jumping from club to club, playing for the likes of Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers and Turkish side Antalyaspor.
He’s currently without a club having left Scotland’s St Mirren at the end of last season.
Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips
The sons of Arsenal icon Ian Wright have both enjoyed successful careers – just on opposite sides of the globe.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was exceptional for Manchester City between 1999 and 2005, winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award four times, and it’s Player of the Year award once. He also won the Premier League title with Chelsea, and made 46 appearances for England.
Bradley Wright-Phillips on the other hand found success in America following a hit-and-miss career in his home country.
The now 35-year-old moved to the New York Red Bulls in 2013, where in seven seasons he hit 126 goals to become the club’s all time leading scorer. He moved to Los Angeles FC earlier this year. He was widely considered one of the best players in MLS history.
Lucas and Theo Hernandez
The Hernandez brothers are by far and away the youngest pair of siblings on this list, but both have already had glistening careers.
Theo, 22, has played for Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, and most recently AC Milan, where he has already established himself as one of Serie A’s best fullbacks.
Lucas, 24, spent the early part of his career with Atletico Madrid, before Bayern Munich paid a club record fee of $88 million for his services last summer. He was also a key figure for France as it won the World Cup in 2018.
Dieter and Uli Hoeness
Dieter and Uli Hoeness both had impressive careers with Bayern Munich, just at different times.
Uli, the elder, won three Bundesliga and three European Cups with the German giants in the 1970s before leaving the club in 1979.
He was replaced by his brother, who, over the course of the next eight years, added five more Bundesliga titles to the family collection.
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