Legacies in football imply a number of things. Johan Cruyff left a legacy by teaching his “Total Football” philosophy to the world. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona created a legacy as one of the greatest sides in the world whose impact played a key role in Spain’s international domination.
Helenio Herrera popularised the famous Catenaccio system with Inter Milan in the 1960s.
Then there are the legacies which are carried on by the next of kin who, in trying to emulate their fathers, either fail and are pushed into oblivion, or succeed to extend the legacy and at times, even build a better legacy of their own.
However, the weight of expectations can prove to be too much for some players while others thrive under such pressure. Players such as Kasper Schmeichel, who won the Premier League title with Leicester last season, and Milan’s Paolo Maldini, who enjoyed an even greater career than his father, fall into the latter category.
In the current generation, there are quite a few young players trying to carry on the legacy of their illustrious fathers. On that note, let’s take a look at five of them:
#5 Ianis Hagi
To the unknown, Ianis Hagi’s father, Gheorghe Hagi is regarded as the greatest Romanian player of all time and was nicknamed the ‘Maradona of the Carpathians’, highlighting his talent. He was one of the best attacking playmakers during the 1980s and 1990s and is one of the few players to have played for eternal Spanish rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
As such, the expectations on his 18-year-old son when he decided to become a footballer are natural.
Ianis joined the Gheorghe Hagi football academy, one of the largest modern academies in South-eastern Europe, at the age of 10 and was handed his debut by his father at the tender age of 16 for FC Viitorul Constanta.
He made his first start the following year in 2015 and scored as well. After a move to Italian team ACF Fiorentina fell through in the summer, he was made the captain of the side.
However, he moved to Fiorentina in July 2016 and currently plays for the ACF Fiorentina Primavera, the U-19 team of Fiorentina. He made his first-team debut in October 2016 as a substitute.
Further, the attacking midfielder has represented Romania from the under-15 level onwards and has already scored three goals for the under-19 team. Hagi’s career trajectory so far has shown he has the potential and with effort and guidance, he can definitely go on to replicate his father’s achievements.
(Video Courtesy – miroP10 YouTube Channel)
#4 Enzo Zidane
Possibly the highest profile name on the list, Enzo Zidane has really big boots to fill given his father Zinedine’s standing and success in the game. World Cup and Euro winner with France, one-time Ballon d’Or winner in 1998 and 3-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Zinedine Zidane has continued his winning habit by lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy with Real Madrid in his first season as a manager.
As such, Enzo has a long way to go to emulate his father and even more so because he plays for the same club albeit their B team, Real Madrid Castilla. Playing as an attacking midfielder, Enzo has been notching up assists along with goals for his team.
He made his senior debut in a Copa del Rey match against Cultural Leonesa when he came on as a substitute and scored from the edge of the box to cap off a memorable match.
Enzo currently trains with the first team with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale. He is eligible to play for Spain as well as France and Algeria and his father has stated that his son can choose to play for the country of his liking.
At 21 years of age, Enzo is at a crucial juncture as the growth he shows in the next couple of years will have a major impact on the kind of career he has.
(Video Courtesy – ScoutNationHD YouTube Channel)
#3 Justin Kluivert
The name Kluivert is famous in the footballing world ever since Patrick scored the winning goal for Ajax in the 1996 Champions League final. Having spent a career playing for some of Europe’s top clubs such as Barcelona, Milan, Newcastle and Lille, Patrick’s legacy as one of the best European strikers at both the club level and the international level with the Netherlands is well-documented.
On the other hand, coming through the Ajax youth system just like his father before him, 17-year-old Justin Kluivert made his first-team debut this January, coming on as a substitute. Primarily a winger who can play as a striker as well, Kluivert has already clocked up 11 appearances for the Dutch side, including nine in the Eredivisie. With 83% pass completion and six chances created in those nine games, the youngster looks set to make his mark quickly.
Justin scored his first Eredivisie goal on 19th March away to SBV Excelsior, which is exactly 10 years and a day since his father scored his last career goal. If Kluivert jr. continues to improve at this rate, it will only be a matter of time before he joins Paris Saint-Germain, where his father is currently the director of football.
#2 Leroy Sane
The most popular name on the list, Leroy Sane has already upped his stature as one of Europe’s hottest talents with his performances at Manchester City. Meanwhile, his father Souleyman Sane is the least popular player on the list.
A striker by trade, Souleyman spent almost a decade playing for German clubs Freiburg, Nurnberg and Wattenscheid in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was capped 55 times by the Senegalese national team.
(Video Courtesy – Bundesliga YouTube Channel)
His son, however, made himself known to the world with Schalke in Germany, before Pep Guardiola decided to splash the cash to bring the German to England. After an initial settling-in period, Sane has lit up both the league and the Champions League.
He has notched up two goals and two assists in just four games in the Champions League and already has three goals in the Premier League. Claiming that he inherited his pace from his father, who was known to run 100 metres in 10.7 seconds, and balance from his mother Regina, who won the Olympic bronze in gymnastics for West Germany at the 1984 event, 21-year-old Sane well on his way to building a legacy of his own.
(Video Courtesy – MShow YouTube Channel)
#1 Giovanni Simeone
The Simeones are the perfect father-son duo, who have lit up Europe’s top leagues. Diego Simeone was a tough-tackling Argentine midfielder with over 100 caps for the country and won domestic and European titles over the course of his career with Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Lazio.
He is hailed as one of the best managers in recent times, and was responsible for breaking the Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly.
If having such a famous and legendary father weighs on his shoulders then Giovanni Simeone is pretty good at masking it because his performances with Italian side Genoa have already attracted interest from European clubs.
After joining Argentine giants River Plate’s youth system in 2008, Gio moved up the ranks and eventually secured a transfer to Genoa last summer. He has already scored 10 goals in the Serie A this season, including a brace against Italy’s top team Juventus, bringing back memories of his father scoring against the Turin club for Lazio in 2000.
Primarily a striker, Gio topped the scoring charts with nine goals in the 2015 South American Youth Football Championship, helping Argentina win the tournament for the 5th time. His goalscoring exploits this season have seen him linked with a move to English side Everton as a replacement for Romelu Lukaku and if the move materialises, the 21-year old could be taking another significant step towards building a legacy of his own.
(Video Courtesy – ScoutNationHD YouTube Channel)