Seven soccer sons who went on to eclipse their parent’s achievements, Neymar, Lampard...

Building up excitement for a soccer player’s son usually ends in disappointment, but sometimes the combination of genetic ability and hard work is a perfect recipe for a world-class player.

Following in the footsteps of your parents can be a daunting task for many, let alone those born to talented sports stars. Often it's the case that these children are held to such high expectations that they fold under the pressure.

But occasionally, soccer players rise to the challenge and actually surpass the achievement of their sporting parents.

Planet Sport takes a look at seven players who used their parent's inspiration to become an even better player.

Xabi Alonso in action for Bayern Munich
Xabi Alonso in action for Bayern Munich

Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso enjoyed several trophy-winning years at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In his glittering career, the Spaniard won 17 trophies, including the World Cup in 2010.

However, Alonso's career started at Real Sociedad, the club his father, Periko Alonso, made over 150 appearances for.

Periko enjoyed a successful career of his own in Spain, winning six trophies during spells at Sociedad and Barcelona.

Towards the end of his playing days, Periko went into coaching and even took charge of his beloved Sociedad for ten games before retiring from the sport in 2000.

Periko was clearly a very talented soccer player, proving good enough to play for some of the world's best clubs. But the ability passed down to his son Xabi has allowed him to add even more limelight to the Alonso name and carve out a world-class career of his own.

Miguel Alonso in action for Spain in 1981
Miguel Alonso in action for Spain in 1981

Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos

Once touted as soccer wonderkids, the Dos Santos brothers were held in high regard during their careers. In their teenage years, both brothers joined Barcelona's infamous La Masia academy and impressively both managed to break into the first team where they made 42 appearances between them.

Following spells in Europe which involved time at Tottenham Hotspur for Giovani, both Dos Santos brothers found themselves plying their trade in the MLS for LA Galaxy. Giovani joined the Galaxy in 2015 and was included in the roster for both the 2016 and 2017 MLS All-Star Games.

Younger brother Jonathan eventually joined him in 2017 and has gone on to represent the club as captain.

But Giovani's recent move to Mexican side, Club America is one that will feel closest to home for his father, Geraldo, after he started his own soccer career there in 1980.

Geraldo played his soccer in the Mexican Primera Division where he scored 27 goals in 135 games, but despite being part of a very talented sporting family, it is definitely the younger generation of the Dos Santos family that have achieved the most in the sport.

Giovani dos Santos at LA Galaxy
Giovani dos Santos at LA Galaxy

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard is widely regarded as one of the best soccer players of this generation. Despite not yet finding his form at Real Madrid, Hazard's world-class ability was showcased during his time at Chelsea and Lille.

Known for his skillful dribbling and ruthless finishing, Eden is a recognisable sporting figure across the globe. But while he may be the most successful so far, Eden is just one part of an incredibly talented soccer family.

Eden Hazard has yet to hit the heights for Real Madrid
Eden Hazard has yet to hit the heights for Real Madrid

In fact, growing up, Eden looked up to two soccer-playing parents. His father, Thierry, played semi-professionally as a defensive midfielder while mother, Carine, was a goalscoring forward. Quite evidently it was a good balance for producing one of the most exciting talents in world sport.

But while Eden's achievements in the game have clearly surpassed both his parents, his brothers aren't too far behind either.

Younger brother Thorgan is enjoying a successful spell at Borussia Dortmund where he has been rewarded with a call-up to play alongside Eden with the Belgian national team.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Kylian Hazard moved to Chelsea hoping to replicate Eden's success. But after failing to make an impact, Kylian recently made a permanent switch to Cercle Brugge back in Belgium.

Eden's career has no doubt propelled him ahead of his parents to be the face of the Hazard brand, but with both his younger brothers enjoying successful spells in Europe they're definitely hot on his trail.

Thierry Hazard, left, in conversation while watching his son in action for Germany
Thierry Hazard, left, in conversation while watching his son in action for Germany

Neymar

Neymar burst onto the soccer scene at a young age when he dazzled the world with his flair at Santos, and ever since, the Brazilian has continued to impress.

In Brazil he is hailed as a legend, with his 64 international goals only trailing Pele in the scoring charts.

And as a Champions League winner which has scored over 200 goals at club level, it is easy to see why Neymar is considered among the best players in the world and has been nominated for multiple Ballon D'ors.

With his father in charge of his business affairs, Neymar made a big-money switch to Paris Saint-Germain
With his father in charge of his business affairs, Neymar made a big-money switch to Paris Saint-Germain

In 2017, Neymar Jr's record breaking switch to Paris Saint-Germain sent shockwaves through the sporting world and further raised his status as a global superstar.

But the man in charge of his off-field affairs is none other than his father, Neymar Santos Sr. Having enjoyed a soccer career of his own playing for his hometown club, Mogi Das Cruzes, Neymar Sr. was eventually forced into retirement due to injuries.

Since the end of his playing days, Neymar Sr. focused on teaching his son everything he knew about the sport, and based on how it's going, we'd say he did a pretty good job.

Not only was Neymar Sr. a parent and a coach, but since his son's meteoric rise in soccer he has taken up the role of his agent and played a large part in his recent transfer to PSG.

Neymar Sr and Neymar Jr take in a game at Paris Saint-Germain
Neymar Sr and Neymar Jr take in a game at Paris Saint-Germain

Christian Pulisic

At the age of 22, Pulisic has proved to be a soccer sensation. Starting his career at Borussia Dortmund, the Pennsylvania-born winger managed to establish himself as one of the most exciting prospects in Europe.

In a three-year stint in Germany, Pulisic racked up 13 goals in 90 appearances and attracted the attention of many European powerhouses. In January 2019, he made the switch to Chelsea for a reported $73million.

On the international stage, Pulisic currently holds the record as the youngest player to ever captain the USA national team and has scored 14 goals in just 34 games.

But unbeknown to many, Pulisic was inspired to take up soccer after his father. Mark Pulisic was a professional indoor soccer player, and enjoyed a successful eight-year spell at Harrisburg Heat in the 90s.

After retiring in 1999, Mark ventured into coaching and actually joined his son at Borussia Dortmund in 2015 after being named the U-10 academy coach.

As a two-time winner of the US Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, Christian has undoubtedly surpassed his father's achievements in the sport, and at the tender age of 22, he has plenty of time to add to his list of honours.

Christian Pulisic celebrates a goal against Arsenal in 2020
Christian Pulisic celebrates a goal against Arsenal in 2020

Frank Lampard

Lampard's iconic career has seen him widely regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation. During his 14-year spell at Chelsea, Lampard became a club legend, winning nearly every trophy there is to offer including the Premier League and Champions League.

Yet despite Lampard's heroic years at Chelsea, it was across the city at rivals West Ham United that the name Lampard was first hailed as a London legend. Frank Lampard Sr. experienced 18 years at the Hammers after his debut in 1967.

Playing as a left-back, Lampard Sr. scored just 18 goals but actually made more professional appearances than his son did over at Chelsea, eventually wearing the famous claret and blue jersey 551 times before retiring in 1986.

Frank Lampard Sr was a West Ham United stalwart
Frank Lampard Sr was a West Ham United stalwart

But on the international stage the achievements of Lampard Sr. and his son are widely contrasting. With his father only making two appearances for the Three Lions, Frank Lampard Jr. surpassed him with ease, making 106 appearances for his national side over a 15-year period.

Both of the Lampard father-and-son duo ventured into coaching following their retirement, and just as he did in his playing days, Lampard seems to want to eclipse his father's achievements as a coach. However, after being sacked by his beloved Chelsea, he might have a few years to wait just yet.

Frank Lampard made his name as a player at Chelsea, where he also coached
Frank Lampard made his name as a player at Chelsea, where he also coached

Gonzalo Higuain

In his prime, Higuain was one of Europe's deadliest strikers. With an eye for goal and devastating finishing ability, he was a prized asset for any soccer team.

During his career, Higuain enjoyed goalscoring spells at Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus and Chelsea. During this time he won 14 trophies and finished as runners-up with Argentina in the 2014 World Cup.

Following his switch to Inter Miami in 2020, David Beckham and co will be hoping Higuain links up with his brother and fellow forward, Federico Higuain, to continue racking up the goals.

But Higuain's career first started at Argentine club, River Plate, the same club his father, Jorge, made 131 appearances for.

Despite both his sons being strikers, Jorge made his name as a central defender. His career centred around various Argentine clubs including River Plate and Boca Juniors, but he also spent time in France playing for Stade Brestois 29.

Clearly soccer runs in the blood for the Higuain family, but as for an argument on the most successful member of the family, Gonzalo's breathtaking career undoubtedly places him at the top of the family tree.

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain who is currently at Inter Miami
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain who is currently at Inter Miami