There was an intriguing sight in September when two young footballers with ‘Beckham’ and ‘Neville’ on the backs of their shirts lined up together.
No, you hadn’t been whisked in a time machine back to Old Trafford in the 1990s, but in actual fact you were watching the emergence of the progeny of David Beckham and Phil Neville.
Romeo Beckham, the second son of the former Manchester United legend, was making his debut for Fort Lauderdale CF, which essentially acts as the reserve team for MLS outfit Inter Miami – who are, incidentally, owned by old Goldenballs himself and managed by Neville.
Also starring for Fort Lauderdale that day was Harvey Neville, son of Phil, as he embarks on the first steps of his career stateside.
If the famous duo had remained in Manchester, they could have played their part in second generation ‘Class of ‘92’ reunion in the United youth setup. Robbie Savage went on to play for Leicester City and Derby County amongst many others, but he actually started his career in the juniors at Old Trafford alongside Beckham and Neville. His son, Charlie, is currently on the books of the Under-23 team at Manchester United.
Richie Wellens was another United trainee that went on to make more than 600 first team appearances for clubs up and down the land. His son, Charlie, is another young prospect plying his trade in Manchester United’s Under 23s!
There was definitely something in the water in Manchester back then, but readers of a certain vintage will be able to age themselves quite easily when we reveal that the next generation of footballing sons with famous fathers are starting to break through into first teams across the world.
Could there be more of a contrasting father-son dynamic than Alf-Inge Haaland and his child, Erling.
The senior Haaland was an uncompromising midfielder with Manchester City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, although he’s best known for his spat with Roy Keane which resulted in the Norwegian suffering a career-threatening injury at the hands of the Irishman.
Erling was actually born in Leeds but moved to the Norwegian town of Bryne with his family at the age of three. He played for the youth teams there before moving to Molde, and his goalscoring exploits soon caught the eye of scouts around the globe.
He would eventually sign terms with Red Bull Salzburg, where he would remain for just six months – in which time he scored 29 goals in just 22 games, including in five consecutive Champions League games.
That was enough to persuade Borussia Dortmund to part with a reported £20 million for him, and already that looks to be money well spent.
You remember Paolo Maldini – the super-cool Italian defender whose model good lucks belied a man with a love for the physical side of the game.
He never left AC Milan, playing for the club for 25 years and making more than 600 appearances for the Rossoneri – picking up five European Cup/Champions League winner’s medals and seven Serie A titles along the way.
Twice finishing third in the Ballon d’Or, Maldini has passed on his genetic material to son Daniel, who seems to have inherited his father’s innate ability.
But unlike his dad, the 19-year-old is a creative midfield player, and he has already made nine first-team appearances for Milan – the third generation of the Maldini name to do so after grandfather Cesare.
Capped at youth level by Italy, remember the name Daniel Maldini….as if you could forget that famous surname.
With four sons, it was always likely that one of Zinedine Zidane’s progeny would have a go at making it as a professional footballer.
Well, so far, the whole quartet has made a decent fist of it. Enzo, the oldest, came through the youth set-up at Real Madrid before moving to Alaves and Almeria. He currently plays for Rodez in French Ligue 2.
Luca made the interesting decision of becoming a goalkeeper – slightly unusual when your dad is a Ballon d’Or winning midfielder, but the 23-year-old is carving his own path and in the 2020/21 season was promoted to La Liga with Rayo Vallecano.
Elyaz, the youngest of the Zidane clan at 15, is also on the books of Real Madrid, but it’s the third son – Theo – of whom most is expected. He has already trained with the Galacticos first team, and he shares a similar playing style to his father – keep a close eye on the latest Zidane off the production line.
If you really want to feel old, here’s a fun fact: Didier Drogba has a 19-year-old son.
And like his father, Isaac is making strides in football and starting out at Guingamp – the same French side that Didier took his first steps in the professional game at.
Isaac, who left the Chelsea academy to head to France, is a technically-gifted midfielder, while Didier was more of a physical specimen in his heyday – his robust attacking play helped the Blues to four Premier League titles and a Champions League win his spell at the club.
It’s fairly rare for a young player with a famous parent to make it in professional football, so imagine the pressure you’re under when BOTH of your mum and dad represented their country at the beautiful game.
That’s the fate that has befallen Giovanni Reyna, whose father Claudio played for Manchester City, Sunderland and Rangers while winning 112 caps for the United States.
The 18-year-old has a double dose of footballing genetics, with mum Danielle Egan also winning six caps for the US.
Named after Claudio’s good friend Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Reyna Jr has enjoyed a fine start to his career and is a Borussia Dortmund regular already.