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5 footballers who were managed by their fathers

Paolo (left) and Cesare Maldini.
Paolo (left) and Cesare Maldini.
Sourya C

It isn't a very common occurrence in the top echelons of the game, but footballers have often followed in the footsteps of their fathers to the extent that they have gone on to play under them.

The most notable recent examples of the same took place at Real Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane's sons Enzo Fernandez and Luca Zidane both played under their illustrious father, if only briefly.

Some turn up their noses when this takes place, and suggestions of nepotism often abound when a father coaches their son. Often, the burden of expectations and scrutiny on the son is detrimental to their performances on the pitch. But sometimes the father can legitimately claim to have helped in the development of his son, as was the case with the Maldinis.

5 footballers who were managed by their fathers

The father-son dynamic is a unique and cherished relationship, and it becomes a very interesting equation once it is taken to the professional sphere, especially sports. So without further ado, let us take a look at five footballers who were managed by their fathers.

#5 Darren Ferguson

Darren Ferguson
Darren Ferguson

Darren Ferguson has followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a manager; he is currently in charge of League One side Peterborough United. However, he has, like some others in this list, always lived in the shadows of their illustrious fathers, Sir Alex Ferguson being the case in this regard.

Commendably, Darren Ferguson has managed to carve out a niche for himself. He was a Manchester United player for a large chunk of the 1992-93 season when Bryan Robson was out injured, with Darren Ferguson also winning a league winners' medal as a result. His father had, in fact, taken Darren Ferguson through the youth system at Manchester United.

However, Darren Ferguson slowly got shunted out of the team as a result of huge competition in the Manchester United midfield. He subsequently went on to play for Wolverhampton and a host of other teams, including Wrexham.


#4 Nigel Clough

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough

Nigel Clough was a key member of a Nottingham Forest side that was managed by his legendary father Brian Clough. Nigel regularly finished among the top goal-scorers for the side and was part of the team that won the League Cup in 1989 and also reached the FA Cup semifinal twice.

However, when Nottingham Forest got relegated from the newly-minted Premier League in 92-93, Clough junior moved on to Liverpool, while his charismatic father, one of the greatest-ever managers in the history of the English game, hung up his boots after an illustrious 18-year career.

#3 Niko Kranjcar

Nico Kranjcar
Nico Kranjcar

Niko Kranjcar. a product of Dinamo Zagreb, played with distinction for both his country, Croatia and a plethora of clubs across the world. His father, Zlatko, another illustrious alumnus of Dinamo Zagreb, coached Nico in the national side after taking over the reins of the team in 2004.

While there were some allegations of nepotism because of how early Nico was handed his debut (he was 20 years old), he went on to prove his father's call right by going on to star for the national team even after the former was sacked. The attacking midfielder played 81 times for his nation.

#2 Jordi Cruyff

Jordi Cruyff of Manchester United
Jordi Cruyff of Manchester United

Another member of this club who was always eclipsed by his giant of a father, Jordi was the son of Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest footballing talents to emerge from the Netherlands.

Yes, the ex-Manchester United midfielder may say that the extra scrutiny he was subjected to made his progress up the ladder of professional football tougher. But one might counter this argument by saying that it was his father's influence that helped him be a part of the youth set-ups at Ajax and Barcelona that shaped his development, not unlike Ferguson junior going up the ranks at United.

Cruyff junior would go on to play for Barcelona and United as a squad player and contributed usefully in midfield, but he could never match the brilliance of the generational talent that was Johan.

Cruyff junior now manages Shenzhen FC in China.


#1 Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini

The story of the Maldinis is different from that of the Cruyffs. That's because Paolo, an iconic left-back and one of the best in the history of the sport, managed to eclipse his father, Cesare, by carving out a storied legacy at AC Milan during a 24-year career.

While the elder Maldini won four Serie A titles, Paolo won seven. But it wasn't just the domestic game where AC Milan shone during Paolo Maldini's tenure. A five-time winner of the European Cup/Champions League, Paolo's cupboard is chock-full of silverware. But his iconic status transcends numbers, and he shone as a captain and a defender par excellence.

Cesare Maldini, himself a great defender, also played successfully for the Azzurri, and that is the team for which he coached his son, first at the U21 level and then at the senior team in the 1998 World Cup where Italy were knocked out by eventual winners France in the quarter-finals.

He again took up the reins of the national team in 2001 for a brief period when Paolo was still in the mix. Interestingly, neither the father nor the son won a trophy for their national team despite great performances for the side.

Edited by Bhargav

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