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International football's Band of Brothers: Part-2

Virendra Karunakar

Part 2 of our look at the most famous brothers to have represented their countries in international football.

The Ravelli twins – Thomas and Andreas

The 1994 World Cup in the USA saw Thomas Ravelli at his best. In an international career that spanned almost two decades, starting in 1981, Ravelli played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Euro 1992, and the 1994 World Cup, in which Sweden finished 3rd, amassing 143 caps for his country in the process. His finest moment came when he saved 2 penalties during the shootout of the ’94 World Cup against Romania, that saw the Swedes progress into the semi-finals. Thomas is a Swedish football legend and also had club success as he won won an incredible 9 Swedish league championships and a Swedish Cup in his fantastic career.

Andreas won 41 caps for Sweden and 3 Swedish league titles.

The Ayews – Andre, Abdul Rahim and Jordan

French L1 football club Marseille's forw

Andre Ayew, the most successful of the three, has played his entire senior career with Marseille. He starred for and captained the under-20 Ghana team that won both the 2009 African Youth Championship and the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Andre plays as a striker and has 43 caps for Ghana with 4 goals. He is the middle brother in the trio.

Eldest of the lot, Abdul Ibrahim has only played 6 times for country as a defensive midfielder and picked up the silver medal at the African Cup of Nations in 2010. The youngest, Jordan, has 10 international caps and like Andre has so far played only for Marseille since joining in 2009. Jordan has won the 2009-10 Ligue 1 title.

The Laudrups – Michael and Brian

Heineken Brings UEFA Champions League Trophy to Chicago

One of the most decorated set of brothers to have ever played the game and the two greatest Danish players ever in the history of the game. We often see in most cases, one of the siblings doing markedly better than the other. There is as much width as a single strand of hair between these two.

Brian Laudrup played for Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Rangers, Chelsea and Ajax; he played 82 times for Denmark and won the 1992 European Championships. He was named in the team of the tournament at both Euro ‘92 and the ‘98 World Cup; a 4-time Danish footballer of the year, he won the Champions League, Serie A, 3 Scottish titles, UEFA super cup and 2 Danish league titles. He was named on the FIFA 100 list of greatest living players ever.

If you thought Brian’s career was impressive, how’s this for a list…. Michael earned 104 caps for Denmark, played for some of the biggest clubs in world football- Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lazio and Ajax. He won 5 La Ligas in a row, a European Cup, a World Club Cup and a Serie A title. The brilliance of the man is best encompassed through these quotes by fellow footballers:

Romário: “The best player I have ever played with and the 4th best in the history of the game”

Raúl: “The best I have ever played with”

Andres Iniesta: “Who is the best player in history? Laudrup.”

Lionel Messi: “I fully understand why he is considered one of the best players in Barcelona’s history and even the world.”

Franz Beckenbauer: “Pelé was the best in the 60s, Cruyff in the 70s, Maradona in the 80s and Laudrup in the 90s.”

Brian currently works as a commentator, pundit and analyst on Swedish channel TV3+. He also manages a football academy back home which aims to help out marginalized youth. Michael is currently manager of Premier League side Swansea City.

The Kalous – Bonaventure and Salomon

Paris Saint-Germain's forward Bonaventur

For both brothers, Feyenoord proved to be the starting point after they left their home country for European football. Bonaventure played 6 seasons with Feyenoord as a winger predominantly; Salomon, who once came to visit his brother, impressed the folks at the club who signed him on as a youth player. The signing was almost as a replacement as it came the year that Bonaventure left Feyenoord for Auxerre and then went on to PSG. He played 47 times for Cote d’Ivoire scoring 10 goals. At club level, he won the Eredivisie once with Feyenoord and 2 French Cups (with Auxerre and PSG).

FBL-WC2014-AFR-GAM-CIV

Salomon picked up the pieces left by his brother at Feyenoord and had a very impressive 3 seasons there scoring 35 goals in his 69 appearances. That caught the attention of Chelsea, who signed him in the summer of ’06. After 6 years with the Blues, he moved to Lille in 2012 where he has been contributing handsomely with 13 goals in 26 appearances so far. He was more prolific than his elder brother for country, scoring 21 times in his 57 appearances. He won 1 Premier League title and 4 FA Cups with Chelsea and was part of their maiden Champions League triumph in the 2011-12 season. In 2010, he set up the Kalou Foundation aimed at providing facilities for social welfare.

The Nevilles – Gary and Phil

Phil Neville and Gary Neville of Manchester United

Gary is England’s most capped right-back and is synonymous with Manchester United having been a one-club man. Having joined as an apprentice at the age of 16, he emerged through the ranks as a part of now famous ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ that included his brother and other United stalwarts such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

He went on to captain the club for 5 years in the 2000’s. His potent partnership with Beckham on that right flank for United provided a regular supply of assists for the club. Gary won 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and 2 Champions League winners medals. He currently works for Sky Sports as pundit and commentator.

Younger brother Phil pretty much won the same trophies – he won 2 fewer league titles and one less Champions League. Both of them played in the right-back position and after 10 years at United, Phil decided to move on to Everton with whom he finished his career this past season. A very versatile player who could also play in midfield, Neville currently holds a UEFA B coaching license and is on the radar of quite a few clubs post his retirement.

The Toures – Kolo and Yaya

AFCON Semi-final - Ivory Coast v Egypt

The Cote d’Ivoire has a fair share of such brothers, none more famous than Yaya and Kolo Toure. The two of them in fact have even played for the same club – Manchester City – since 2010.

Yaya is one of the most dominating, physical midfielders around who also happens to have great technique. He has 78 caps for his country and after starting with Olympiacos and Monaco, secured his move to Barcelona where he caught everyone’s attention. He has won league titles in 4 countries – in the Cote d’Ivoire, Greece, Spain and England. He received the prestigious African Footballer of the Year award twice in a row in 2011 and 2012.

Kolo, 2 years elder, first arrived in the English Premier League in 2002 with Arsenal and spent 7 seasons with the Gunners before making the switch to Manchester City. He was part of the winning ‘Invincibles’ squad at Arsene Wenger’s disposal in 2003. He has a century of caps (103) to his name and with Arsenal, won 1 Premier League title and 2 FA Cups. With Manchester City he added another league title and another FA Cup. He has moved to Liverpool FC in the summer transfer window as a free agent after his contract expired with City.

They have another brother, Ibrahim, who plays football but has not donned national colours yet.

The Koemans – Ronald and Erwin

The Koemans are second generation footballers as sons of former Dutch player Martin Koeman who had a solitary cap to his name. Erwin Koeman, the elder of the two by a year, played for PSV Eindhoven, FC Groningen and Mechelen and was capped 31 times by his country. At Mechelen, he won 1 Belgian First Division title and the European Super Cup as well as Cup Winners’ Cup. He was a double Eredivisie winner with PSV in 1991 and 1992. After retirement, he has had stop-start spells in management at PSV, RKC Waalwijk, Feyenoord and Utrecht. He even managed the Hungarian national football team for 2 years. He is currently manager at RKC in his 2nd spell there.

Ronald, the younger and more famous of the two, played for all of Hollands “big 3? picking up 4 league titles and 3 Dutch cups. He is a double European Cup winner, first with PSV in 1987-88 and later with Barcelona in 1991-92 with whom he also won 4 La Liga titles. Ronald was a strong centre-back who has scored more goals than any other defender in the history of football. He had 187 goals in his 532 professional appearances at club level and 14 more in 78 caps with the Netherlands.

A lot of it had to do with his powerful right-footed free-kicks and his ability from set pieces. He is currently the manager of Feyenoord and has managed at some of the biggest clubs around such as Ajax, PSV and Valencia. He added title wins in his stints at PSV and Ajax, this time as manager. His teammates at Barcelona gave him the name ‘Tintin’ for his resemblance to Herge’s fictional character.

The brothers have one rare distinction that has eluded some of the finest Dutch players ever – a winner’s medal at a major international tournament. The Koemans were a part of the Dutch team that won Euro’88. Ronald was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year 2 years running in 1987 and 1988.

To read about other brothers who made it big on the world stage, click here.

Edited by Staff Editor

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