The Cruyffs, the Maldinis, the Lampards: these are just a selection of footballing families where son has followed in the footsteps of father by playing professional football. But only a select few can attest to lining up alongside their old man in a competitive fixture.
FIFA.com looks at some of the extremely rare instances where father and son have gone on to become contemporaries, gracing the pitch at the same time as team-mates.
With a FIFA Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Cup™ winners’ medal to his name, 74-time Brazil international Rivaldo is no stranger to achieving extraordinary things. And shortly before hanging up his boots, the A Seleção great enjoyed another remarkable feat: playing alongside his son Rivaldinho.
Rivaldo winded down his trophy-laden playing days by returning to Brazilian side Mogi Mirim in 2013, the club that helped launch his glittering career. It was at the Sao Paulo-based side in February 2014 that the former Barcelona and AC Milan star achieved his dream of playing with his son before announcing his retirement a month later.
Yet there was still another twist in the tale of Rivaldo’s remarkable career. 15 months after seemingly hanging up his boots, the 43-year-old announced his return to the game in June 2015 and a month later, etched his name in football folklore once more by scoring in the same match as his 20-year-old son in a 3-1 victory against Macae.
“I have only God to thank, because after stopping for 15 months I still returned, having the good fortune to start a game alongside my son and score a goal – and he did too,” he said. “I think we made history. I had heard of father and son playing together, but never of father and son both scoring in a competitive match.”
Father and son recording themselves on the scoresheet in the same fixture is a remarkable feat, but perhaps even more extraordinary is both claiming trophies together.
George Eastham Jr’s 1966 FIFA World Cup medal will naturally take pride of place in his prize collection – but he holds another from a smaller tournament that boasts notable personal significance. At age 18 in 1954, he lined up alongside his father George Eastham Sr for Ards in Northern Ireland’s Gold Cup, lifting his first piece of silverware with the 39-year-old, who bagged the winning goal in the final.
Reflecting on that day, Eastham Jr said: "My memories are still very strong of the Gold Cup final. Surely, we are the only father and son to have winners’ medals from the same game?”
While an extremely rare occurrence indeed, there is another father-son combo that can attest to winning competitions. Russian midfielder Alexei Eremenko Sr enjoyed four seasons towards the latter stages of his career at Finnish side HJK Helsinki – during which he shared a dressing room with son Alexei Eremenko Jr for two campaigns – where both claimed back-to-back Finnish Veikkausliiga titles, as well as the 2003 Finnish Cup.
Upon leaving HJK, Eremenko Sr linked up with his second son and current CSKA Moscow star Roman Eremenko at FF Jaro. Both were a chip off the old block as they went on to play in the same position as their father: “It looks like I can’t teach my own sons any other playing role!” Eremenko Sr later joked.
The return of an icon
Over the border in Sweden, father and son featuring as team-mates happened as recently as 2013 – and similar to Rivaldo in Brazil, it involved the return of an icon in their early 40s.
106-time Sweden international and 2005/06 UEFA Champions League winner Henrik Larsson made his final bow at Swedish fourth-tier team Hogaborgs BK, and it was at the Helsingborg-based side that he played with 15-year-old son, Jordan, who registered himself on the scoresheet.
"We didn't combine a whole lot but obviously I'm proud," said Larsson, who was a member of the Sweden team that finished third at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. "It is of course a rare luxury to get to play with your son.”
England’s two pairs
England’s Football League witnessed not one, but two father-son combos gracing the pitch as contemporaries. Alex Herd, a league and cup winner with Manchester City, played alongside son David for Stockport County on the final day of the 1950/51 Third Division North season. David would also go on to claim an English First Division and FA Cup title, but with local rivals Manchester United.
38 years later, two-time UEFA European Cup winner Ian Bowyer, then player-manager of Hereford United, enlisted the help of his son Gary, who featured with him during the 1989/90 English Fourth Division season.
“The first time we played together my dad was a sub and we were losing at Scunthorpe,” recalled son Gary. “He brought himself on and we came back to draw 3-3. I scored the equaliser and, looking back, I think he was the only one who didn’t come and congratulate me, because it was my fault for the first goal.”
An honourable and final mention must also go to Iceland’s most famous footballing dynasty. While Arnor and Eidur Gudjohnsen never played together as team-mates, son Eidur replaced Arnor as a second-half substitute in an international friendly match against Estonia in 1996, symbolising one career coming to a close, while another was just starting.
"It remains my biggest regret that we did not get to play together, and I know it is Eidur's too," Arnor later said.