La Liga: Top father-son duos to have played in Spanish top flight
A love of football is often passed down from generation to generation and, in some cases, sons even follow their fathers into football stardom.
A love of football is often passed down from generation to generation and, in some cases, sons even follow their fathers into football stardom. Here’s a look at five of the best father-son duos in LaLiga history.
JOHAN AND JORDI CRUYFF
As one of the most important figures in Barcelona’s history, Johan Cruyff brought glory to the Camp Nou both as a player and as a coach, while helping install the philosophy that stills powers the Catalan club today. He won one LaLiga title as a player, in 1973/74, before lifting the trophy four times as Barcelona coach and also leading the Blaugrana to their first ever European Cup in 1992.
The Dutch legend loved his adopted home town of Barcelona so much that he gave his son a Catalan name. Jordi Cruyff went on to follow in his father’s footsteps by also playing for Barcelona and was even given his debut by his old man. Cruyff Jr also represented RC Celta, D. Alaves and Espanyol during his time in Spain and actually ended up making more LaLiga appearances over the course of his career than his iconic father.
PERIKO AND XABI ALONSO
Two of the most successful Basque players of all time are also father and son. Miguel Alonso, better known as ‘Periko,’ won league titles at Real Sociedad and at Barcelona in the 1980s, before moving into coaching. He enjoyed his best managerial spell at Eibar between 1995 and 1998, before taking charge of his Real Sociedad on an interim basis in 2000/01.
His son, however, eclipsed even his father’s illustrious achievements. Xabi Alonso came through the ranks at Real Sociedad, spending a year out on loan at local rivals Eibar in the process – a move which was arranged by Periko, who had strong contacts at both clubs. Xabi will go down as one of Spanish football’s all-time greats. A World Cup winner with Spain in 2010, the cultured midfielder won the LaLiga title with Real Madrid in 2012 and also picked up medals in England and Germany.
CARLOS AND SERGIO BUSQUETS
While Busquets Sr and Busquets Jr may have played in very different positions, they both possessed that ability to play the ball with their feet that is so valued at Barcelona. Between them they’ve won nine LaLiga titles, accounting for over a third of the club’s historic league title count.
Goalkeeper Carlos stepped into the Barcelona goal following the departure of the iconic Andoni Zubizarreta and was first-choice under Johan Cryuff between 1994 and 1996, winning two league titles in the process. But as with the Alonsos, his son has gone on to far eclipse the achievements of his father.
Sergio Busquets will go down in Barcelona history as one of the club’s finest players. Given his first-team debut by Pep Guardiola in 2008, the midfielder has gone on to rack up seven LaLiga Santander medals, six Copa del Reys and three Champions League titles, and has been an integral part of Spain’s international success since 2010.
MIGUEL AND PEPE REINA
Another family story involving a Barcelona goalkeeper, but this time the son also went on to play between the posts. Miguel Reina moved from his hometown club Córdoba to Barcelona in 1966, where he stayed for seven seasons before making the move to the capital with Atletico de Madrid. The Andalusian won the ‘Zamora,’ given to the goalkeeper who concedes the fewest goals in a LaLiga season, on two occasions and earned a handful of caps for Spain.
His son Pepe Reina also represented Spain and was part of La Roja’s three-in-a-row success between 2008 and 2012. At club level, the current AC Milan shot-stopper started his career at Barcelona, before making over 100 LaLiga Santander appearances for Villarreal and later enjoying adventures in England, Germany and Italy.
MAZINHO, THIAGO AND RAFINHA
Brazilian great Mazinho fathered two future LaLiga players. Thiago and Rafinha Alcantara were both born before their father made his move from his native Brazil to Spain, first joining Valencia and later moving to RC Celta after two seasons.
Both sons spent much of their childhood in Spain and both ended up at the Barcelona academy. Stylish midfielder Thiago, the elder of the two, made 68 top-flight appearances for Barcelona before a 2013 transfer to Bayern Munich. Rafinha, meanwhile, is still on the books at the Camp Nou and has made 85 appearances in LaLiga, and would surely have made many more had he not had such bad luck with injuries.
These are just five cases of father-and-son duos to have played in LaLiga. There’s also Real Madrid icon Míchel and current Málaga player Adrián González, who between them have made the most LaLiga appearances of all father-and-son duos, followed closely by Manuel and Manolo Sanchís (both Real Madrid). Current stars Denis Cheryshev, Saúl Ñíguez, Mikel Merino, Marcos Llorente, Kenan Kodro, Borja Bastón, Loren Morón and Lucas and Theo Hernández are also following in their fathers’ footsteps by playing in LaLiga.