Footballers in the modern era are elite athletes, with awe-inspiring fitness levels and astonishing physical abilities. While many are casually termed as being naturally gifted, some like Cristiano Ronaldo are the result of pure hard work and years of dedication; there is a third category. This includes players who have football in their blood, an innate talent that has been passed down from generation to generation.
While the failures of many second-generation footballers are well documented, there are still a few top footballers who have outdone their fathers. In this segment, we take a look at five footballers who surpassed the legacies left behind by their fathers.
#5 Geoff Hurst and Charlie Hurst
Geoff Hurst is one of the most renowned figures in English football history. The West Ham legend scored over 300 goals across a career that spanned 17 years. However, the one thing that English football fans will remember him for is his hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final, which brought the World Cup home to England for the first and only time.
He permanently penciled his name into English football folklore with that performance, and that remains the only major trophy England have won.
After he retired as a player, Hurst entered the managerial field, even managing Chelsea for two years, before finally retiring from all forms of sport and later became one of the few players in the world to be knighted.
His father, on the other hand, was also a professional footballer, but his career was greatly affected by the Second World War. Consequently, he could never make a professional appearance for his country.
Unlike Geoff, however, his father was a center back who enjoyed relative success at multiple English clubs, which includes Bristol Rovers and Oldham Athletic before becoming the player-manager of Sudbury Town. He lead the team to finals of the Suffolk Senior Cup and third place in the league before retiring and taking up a job as a toolmaker.
#4 Diego Forlan and Pablo Forlan
One of the most deadly strikers of the previous decade, Forlan had a sensational career in Europe, particularly in the La Liga. Despite his poor performances at Manchester United, Forlan managed to recover and hit a rich vein of form after leaving Sir Alex Ferguson's side. He joined the Spanish League, and during his time at Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, he won the Pichichi award – the Spanish equivalent of the Golden boot – with both clubs.
For his country, however, Forlan played 112 games, behind only Maxi Pereria, and scored 36 goals. His defining moment came towards the end of his peak period during the 2010 World Cup, as he saved the best of his abilities for the grandest stage.
Forlan managed to beat Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa for the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the best player in the tournament, as Uruguay finished 4th after losing to the Netherlands in the semi-finals.
He continued his form, scoring twice after Luis Suarez's opening goal and helped Uruguay win their 15th Copa America title and in the process, became Uruguay's joint top scorer (since been eclipsed by Luis Suarez).
His father, Pablo Forlan, was also a professional footballer, but unlike his son, he never ventured outside of South America during his career. Pablo did, however, win 7 Uruguayan League titles along with a Copa Libertadores title in the 1960s, and a Copa America with Uruguay despite having made only seventeen caps for the national team.
#3 Gonzalo Higuain and Jorge Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain is a seasoned veteran who has graced various clubs in world football. The highly sought after Argentinian striker was linked to big Premier League clubs during his time at Real Madrid before finally moving to Napoli, where lit the Serie A on fire with 90+ goals in three seasons with the club.
Higuain started his European career at Real Madrid, scoring over 100 league goals over a span of six seasons before being shipped off to Napoli, where he further established himself as one of the foremost strikers in world football. Since then, he has represented Juventus, AC Milan, and Chelsea and continues to be amongst the squad for the Old Lady under Maurizio Sarri.
As for his international career, the Argentinian international has scored 31 goals in 75 matches for his country and has represented his country in various significant tournaments. However, at 32, Higuain is in the twilight years of his career and will look to make the most of his time at the top level.
His father, Jorge Higuain, was a full-back who was renowned for scoring plenty of goals despite being a defender. Although he enjoyed spells at Argentinian clubs such as Boca Juniors, River Plate, and even for a French Ligue 1 club Stade Brestois 29, the senior Higuain never made an appearance for his national team.
#2 Frank Lampard and Frank Lampard Sr.
Frank Lampard is a Chelsea legend, having made more than 600 appearances for the club and scoring a staggering 273 goals. Chelsea's all-time highest scorer carved a niche for himself as a modern-day box-to-box midfielder and will be regarded as one of the best players to have ever played for England.
The midfielder won three Premier League titles, several Domestic Cup Trophies, and one UEFA Champions League title during his stint at Chelsea, and the Stamford Bridge faithful loved him.
However, before Chelsea, Lampard started his career a few miles away at West Ham, where he spent seven years before moving to Stamford Bridge. While the West Ham faithful don't like Frank Lampard, they certainly love his father, Frank Lampard Sr, who made over 600 appearances for the club. He made his debut for the East London club at the age of 19 in November of 1967 and soon established himself as the first-choice left-back for the Hammers.
However, unlike his son, Lampard Sr. only managed to amass two caps for England, the first of which came against Yugoslavia in 1972. A very under-appreciated left-back, he couldn't cement his place in the international squad.
#1 Paolo Maldini and Cesare Maldini
The definition of a one-club player, Paolo Maldini will go down in history as the greatest defender to have ever graced the game. In a career spanning over 25 years, the former Italy captain won a staggering 26 trophies, including five Champions League titles – more than any other player in the modern era of football (level with Cristiano Ronaldo).
An interesting fact, on the 28th of May 2003, Paolo Maldini captained AC Milan to Champions League glory, beating Juventus on penalties. In what proved to be an amazing coincidence, his father, Cesare Maldini, also lifted the European Cup as AC Milan captain on the same date nearly 40 years before his son did it.
Just like his son, Cesare captained Milan for over 12 years before moving to Torino in 1966, but during that time he won four League titles and one Champions League trophy. He is considered a Milan legend, like his son, but it's safe to say that Paolo has truly outdone his legacy and is one of the bonafide legends of the game.
Published 24 Feb 2017, 08:21 IST