Stories

12 footballers forever living in the shadow of their more successful siblings

Francois Kompany

Football is littered with less well-off brothers, whether it’s Joel Cantona or Kaka’s awkward sibling, Digao. Jack Beresford looks at 12 players stuck forever playing second fiddle 

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1. Federico Higuain

Federico moved to Europe around the same time as younger brother Gonzalo in 2008 but struggled for form in his one and only season in Turkey with Besiktas. After a solid spell back in Argentina, the older brother headed Stateside with Columbus Crew, where the diminutive playmaker has averaged close to a goal every three games and was a runner-up in the 2015 MLS Cup. 

A solid career, then, but unlike his superstar sibling at Juventus, Federico is unlikely to attract a bid of £90m for his services. But as he told FIFA.com in 2013: “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that people want to talk about Gonzalo all the time. I don’t feel any bitterness."

2. Mathias Pogba

One of two siblings stuck firmly in the shadow of Paul Pogba, Mathias gets the nod ahead of his twin brother Florentin thanks to a largely anonymous career spent in the lower reaches of English football.

While Florentin Pogba has enjoyed spells with Saint-Etienne and Genclerbirligi in Turkey, Mathias counts Wrexham, Crewe, Crawley and Partick Thistle among his former employers. He's currently without a club after being released by Eredivisie strugglers Sparta Rotterdam, which makes Pogba’s occasional benching at the hands of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United feel like a fairly minor problem.

3. Rodney Sneijder

Although the career of Wesley's older brother Jeff was curtailed by injury, it was a different story for younger brother Rodney. He was on the books with Ajax as a youngster and was actually approached by Real Madrid in 2008. Wesley blocked the move, though. “I stopped the discussions,” Wesley said. “I've told him that he first must make a breakthrough at Ajax."

Now 26, Rodney has just signed with DHSC in the sixth tier of Dutch football. Wesley, meanwhile, left Real Madrid in 2009 to sign for Inter where he won the Treble to go alongside his 100+ caps for the Netherlands. If only...

4. Willy Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick was one of three Aubameyang brothers to try, and ultimately fail, to come through the ranks at Milan. But while eldest brother Catilina at least made a couple of first-team appearances for the Rossoneri and enjoyed a solid enough career in the lower reaches of the Italian and French game, Willy’s career highlight came during a six-game spell with Kilmarnock in 2011.

He now plays for Kray in the German equivalent of League Two, while younger bro Pierre-Emerick was bought by Arsenal for £56m this winter.