2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Keeping it in the family

© Getty Images

As the saying goes, it is in the blood. Year after year, family businesses spring up the world over – carpenter's sons become carpenters, actor's sons become actors. So, it should come as little surprise that a delve into the history of the FIFA World Cup™ unearths a plethora of genetic links, stretching back to 1934, when Martin Vantolra of Spain and France's Roger Rio took to the field as the greatest show on earth arrived in Italy, four decades before their sons – Jose Vantolra and Patrice Rio – earned their chance to do the same.

It is a tradition that will continue in earnest at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with American father-and-son duo Bob and Michael Bradley poised and ready to play their part in what they hope will be a successful tournament for USA. Then there is the Slovakian partnership looking to make progress at the other end of the draw, in Group F. Vladimir Weiss, the Slovakia coach and one-time international, and, confusingly, Vladimir Weiss, the midfielder currently on Manchester City's books, will both be doing their best to dent the hopes of Italy, Paraguay and New Zealand.

Such is the human psyche, there will be the inevitable claims of nepotism in some quarters, but if ever there was proof that footballing talent tends to breed footballing talent, it appears in the form of the Weiss family – Vladimir Weiss Senior's own father is a former Czechoslovakian international.

The tournament's history is ripe with similar stories, with the record books showing that, prior to the upcoming finals, as many as 18 former FIFA World Cup players have gone on to see a son of theirs repeat that feat. Liverpool's Pepe Reina, Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan and Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso fall seamlessly into that category and get another chance to shine on the world stage this summer.

Reina followed in his father's footsteps when he took his place between the posts for Spain in 2006, 40 years after Reina Senior, Miguel, also a goalkeeper, was included in the Spain squad for the tournament in England. Frontman Forlan emulated his father Pablo, who featured for Uruguay in both 1966 and 1974, when he made his FIFA World Cup debut in 2002. Spain midfielder Alonso made it a family double when he appeared in Germany four years ago. His father, midfielder Miguel Angel Alonso, had been part of the Spanish set-up when his native country hosted the 1982 edition.

It does sometimes skip a generation, however, as defender Mario Perez proved when he represented Mexico in the 1970 tournament, exactly 40 years on from his grandfather's big moment, with the forward chosen to represent his country at the inaugural event in Uruguay in 1930.

The family links stretch even further however, with 47 pairs of brothers also having featured in the tournament since its inception. And perhaps the most intriguing tale in South Africa will centre around Jerome Boateng and his brother Kevin-Prince. They will be casting aside family loyalties on 23 June and shaking hands as rivals rather than brothers when Germany meet Ghana in Johannesburg. Berlin-born with a Ghanaian father, the two siblings opted to go their separate ways, with Jerome choosing to fly the flag for Germany and Kevin-Prince deciding to represent his father's homeland.

As they did in Germany in 2006, the Toure brothers, Kolo and Yaya, will join forces for Côte d'Ivoire this summer. They were not the only brotherly pairing to grace the last tournament though. Indeed, they were not even the only family duo within the Ivorian camp, with brothers Arouna and Bakari Kone also called up to Henri Michel's squad that year. Philipp and David Degen made it a hat-trick by lining up alongside each other for Switzerland.

Historically, we have to go back several decades to find the only brothers who have so far managed to get their hands on the ultimate prize. Germany duo Fritz and Ottmar Walter became the first brothers to win a FIFA World Cup™ when they lifted the Trophy in Switzerland in 1954, following Germany's 3-2 win over the much-fancied Hungarians. It was a feat that was repeated 12 years later in England, when the home nation's balding duo of Jack and Bobby Charlton were part of the victorious England team of 1966. They were still playing together when the tournament went to Mexico in 1970.

Perhaps, the most famous siblings of modern times came from Denmark and the Netherlands. The Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian, both featured in the finals in France in 1998, while the talented De Boers, Frank and Ronald, were key members of their country's squad in both 1994 and 1998.

The De Boer twins offered an illuminating insight into their bond during their country's penalty shoot-out with Brazil in the 1998 semi-finals. Frank scored his penalty, the Netherlands' first, but Ronald saw his spot-kick, his side's fourth and last in a 4-2 defeat, saved. Frank did not bother consoling his brother as is the norm in such circumstances, though, choosing instead to have a go at him. So much for brotherly love.

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