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5 footballers who were managed by their fathers

Ahmed Hashim
Top 5 / Top 10

A father-son relationship can be special and memorable but sometimes cold and difficult too. While mutual respect can go a long way in maintaining a great rapport, not doing so can lead to some real issues.  

For many sportspersons, they have had to maintain this relationship not only at home but also at the workplace, while playing under their coaching fathers. It is one thing to be under your father’s strict glare at home but having to do the same at work is another experience altogether! 

Over the years, many coaches have brought their sons into their teams, inviting media attention and the expected criticism, with accusations of nepotism. It is always going to be a tough task for a desperate father trying to advance his son’s fledgling career! 

Let’s take a look at five players who were managed by their fathers. 

Niko Kranjcar

Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar alongside his father and then-coach Zlatko Kranjcar, prior to the 2006 World Cup

This Croatian midfielder was a sensation early on during his time at Dinamo Zagreb, one of the country’s biggest clubs. Niko Kranjcar scored on his debut aged just 16 before going on to become the team’s youngest captain at 17.

For many people, this was no surprise; they just assumed Niko had inherited his father Zlatko’s genes. The elder Kranjcar had played over 250 games for Dinamo, scoring nearly a century of goals during a 10-year stay and had also been named in the club’s centennial best XI. 

The father’s influence became evident to the wider footballing public when Zlatko was named as the manager of the Croatian national team in 2004. He duly went on to hand a debut to his 20-year old son. While there was criticism from some quarters surrounding Niko’s readiness and ability to help the team effort alongside Zlatko’s stubbornness in continuing to play him, Niko remained in the squad even after his father’s sacking in 2006.

Since then, he has racked up 81 caps for Croatia, while also playing in England and winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008. Father and son have gone separate ways; Zlatko went on to manage abroad, including five years in the Middle East while Niko played for Dynamo Kiev and QPR before moving to New York Cosmos earlier this year.

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