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First Eleven – Overshadowed by Dad

December 10, 2010

If you were paying attention to the newspapers of Britain in late September then you will recognise the young man pictured above. If you weren’t then I’ll just tell you that he is Enzo Fernández, the son of French footballing legend Zinedine Zidane and he is currently doing a pretty fine job for the Real Madrid under-16 team. All at once the press of England were profiling the fifteen year old as a potential star of the future even if he is still probably unsure of what his best position is. And just as quickly, the football federations of France and Spain set out on campaigns to convince the talented youngster to eventually choose to represent them on an international stage.

Before he is even at an age when he can legally earn a wage from football, everyone is cueing up ready to see if he can emulate his father on the football pitch; except of course The First Eleven. Over here we want to reassure Enzo that it’s ok for him to be his own man, to simply worry about being the best player he can be and to forget those that are expecting him to be just as good, if not better, than his father.

He won’t be the first footballing son to struggle under his father’s shadow and we suspect he won’t the last. Paolo Maldini has a son rising through the ranks currently and the two Ronaldos, Brazilian and Portuguese, have both had kids in the past year. For all of them, we want to put their minds at ease and introduce… A First Eleven who have all been overshadowed by their footballing fathers…

Captain: #8 Darren Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson is probably the most successful manager in the history of British football. He has few peers, such is the long list of championships and cups that he has won. So it makes sense to install his son Darren as the captain of our anti-climatic bunch. Handed his first professional game while playing for his dad at Old Trafford, Darren Ferguson has been fighting an up-hill battle since. Stuck as a fringe player at Manchester United, he soon moved on to West Ham and Wrexham before starting his managerial career at Peterborough. No matter what he does, he’ll never be free of the mention of his father especially from opposition fans.

Goalkeeper: #1 Kasper Schmeichel

If your dad is heralded as a great of the Premier League and constantly talked about as one of the greatest ever goalkeepers, you could probably be forgiven for trying to become a striker. Scoring goals and stopping shots are completely different beasts and therefore, hard to compare. Of course if you are Kasper Schmeichel you pull on a pair of gloves and simply try to outdo your dad. Sadly, it hasn’t worked so far although big Peter Schmeichel was something of a late bloomer. He was 28 when he signed for Manchester United so there is time for young Kasper yet. For now he is plying his trade with Leeds United in the Championship.

Right-back: #2 Cha Du-Ri

Cha Du-Ri’s father Cha Bum-Kun was named Asia’s Player of the Century in 1999. As a forward for Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Bum-Kun was well-known for a thundering ability to strike the ball that saw him scoring 55 goals in 121 games for South Korea. Cha Du-Ri currently plays for Celtic and while a fine professional and solid right-back, he’s not going down as a legend of the Korean Republic.

Left-back: #3 Craig Allardyce

When you are unable to match the heady heights of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Sunderland and a one-game spell at West Bromwich Albion, then you know you will be considered a footballing failure. Craig Allardyce’s biggest achievement was ten games in two years at Mansfield Town… exactly. Since retiring in 2000, he has gone on to make his own headlines by being featured in a BBC Panorama documentary that implicated he and his father “Big Sam” both accepted “bungs.” Concerns were raised but no charges were eventually brought upon any part of the Allardyce clan.

Holding midfielder: #4 Stephan Beckenbauer

Stephan Beckenbauer not only tried to play the same position as “The Emperor” but he also did at the same club that Franz spent almost his entire career, Bayern Munich. Quite why he thought that would be an excellent tactic in shaking off the Beckenbauer mantle, no-one will know. It didn’t work. Rarely used at FCB, Stephan had spells with 1860 München and Saarbrücken before hanging up his boots and becoming a coach with Bayern’s under-17s.

Centre-half: #5 Alex Bruce

With a Schmeichel in goal, it’s foolish not to have a Bruce as the main force in defence; right? Simply ask Simon Grayson. Ever since they were boys growing up in Manchester, Alex Bruce and Kasper Schmeichel have played football together and Grayson has reunited them at the back of his Leeds United team. Of course it can only be assumed that for all those years, Kasper and Alex knew they would never surpass their fathers who helped Manchester United dominate the early years of the Premier League. Alex has, unlike his dad, played an international match so he can hold that over him.

Centre-half: #6 Michalis Kapsis

You’d think picking up a winners’ medal at Euro 2004 should be enough for Michalis Kapsis to rank alongside his dad as a fine centre-back and avoid selection in this team; unfortunately not. Anthimos Kapsis not only played in the great Panathinaikos side of the seventies that reached a European Cup final at Wembley but he was also selected in an all-European team when such exhibition sides were taken reasonably seriously; head and shoulders above his son.

Left winger: #7 Jordi Cruyff

Had Jordi Cruyff’s father been a shoe maker from Amsterdam, he probably would have retired earlier this year and felt pretty good about the career he had. Capped nine times by the Netherlands, he also played for and won trophies with Barcelona and Manchester United. You can’t disagree that’s not a decent career for any professional footballer; except for the spawn of Holland’s greatest ever player, John Cruyff. Having won the Ballon d’Or three times, become synonymous with the “Total Football” playing style and created a turn all of his own, little Jordi never had a chance. No wonder he dropped “Cruyff” from his name for a time and was simply known as by his first name.

Striker: #9 Ebi Smolarek

Wlodzimierz Smolarek is one of the greatest strikers to have ever pulled on a shirt for Poland. He was at the centre of everything good that they did as they finished third in the 1982 World Cup and was also there four years later in 1986. However, he didn’t give his son a chance. He named his son Euzebiusz, aka Ebi after Portuguese great Eusebio and then made sure to sculpt him into a striker. Ebi is a regular in the national team but he won’t be heralded in the same way his dad is.

Central midfielder: #10 Gavin Strachan

Much like many of his team mates, Gavin Strachan got his footballing start while playing for his dad. Gordon had just taken the player-manager job at Coventry when Gavin started to vie for a spot in the team. He couldn’t cement a place in the team and after leaving the Ricoh Arena in 2003; he has struggled to really call anywhere home and has bounced around. He is still playing for Hinckley in the Conference North.

Right winger: #11 Paul Dalglish

In 2009, Kenny Dalglish was voted the greatest British striker since the war. He played for Scotland a record 102 times and netted for his national side 30 times. To this day he remains a club of Celtic and Liverpool. Paul only ever played for the Scotland under-21 team and he only did it five times. This is a little bit of a recurring theme in this line-up but never had a realistic chance of ever getting out of Kenny’s incredible shadow.

Disappointing Son First XI

On paper that isn’t a bad team until you realise it is all of their sons turning out. I imagine there has to be other players out there that have struggled to escape their father’s shadows. Let me know who I’ve missed below.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steven permalink
    December 11, 2010 12:55 pm

    I’m pretty sure Pele’s son played as a goalkeeper at a pretty high level.

    John Toshack’s son Cameron was a very unsuccessful striker at Cardiff City.

    This is good stuff.

  2. Mike Dale permalink
    December 31, 2010 11:50 am

    What about Julian Lennon?

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