Football: `He wants his football not his name to do the talking'

Following in a famous father's footsteps
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The Independent Online
Poor old Brian Moore got short shrift from Ron Atkinson for a comment he made during Manchester United's Champions' League match on Wednesday, but we female football journalists are used to getting short shrift from BFR. To be fair, you can hardly blame him. It all stems from the time an unfortunate female journalist misguidedly asked the then Aston Villa manager how his son was doing. The "son" she was referring to was the striker Dalian Atkinson who, you may need reminding (since he's faded into oblivion, an occupational hazard of joining Manchester City) is black.

Needless to say, BFR blanked her, which is usual practice for managers and ex-players asked to comment on their (real) footballing sons. "He wants his football not his name, to do the talking," they retort - which is all well and good if your name is Walker and dad's claim to fame was a regular place between Colchester's sticks, but is rather more challenging if your name's Cruyff and dad was one of the finest players ever to grace a football pitch.

You have to feel for Jordi Cruyff, who went so far as to wear "Jordi" on the back of his shirt to create his own identity; in his case, name is more hindrance than help. (By the same premise, heaven help Darren Ferguson should he ever choose to go into management.) But leaving aside the likes of Cruyff, Ferguson, Walker and Jamie Redknapp, whose emergences have been well documented, there are a plethora of famous names coming into their own, and for want of a better way of introducing them, I'll do so as a team.

In goal, Richard Day (unattached), 19-year-old son of the former Carlisle manager Mervyn, the fall guy in chairman Michael Knighton's revolutionary idea that a football team does not need a manager. Unfortunately Knighton reckoned it had no need for his son, either, so young Day - talent notwithstanding - is currently having trials with Exeter and Portsmouth.

The full-backs are Greg Rioch (Hull) and Ashley Neal (Peterborough), sons of Bruce and Phil respectively. The former, a passionate player who's part of Mark Hateley's supposed brave new dawn at Boothferry Park, admits he gets advice regularly from dad, but claims he has got "enough character to stand on my own two feet"; while the latter, an uncompromising, full-back (sounds familiar), is coming back from injury at Posh having failed to get a look-in at Liverpool.

In central defence: Andy Todd (Bolton) and Jamie Buchan (Aberdeen). Young Todd plays under the watchful eye of dad Colin, who admits he's probably harder on his son than on the other players: "My wife thinks so anyway. But you've got to have broad shoulders to succeed, and his are broad enough."

Jamie Buchan, meanwhile, is unmistakably cool and classy like his dad, who claims that Buchan Jnr "can already do things with a ball I never could".

In midfield: Stephen Clemence (Spurs), Sam Shilton (Coventry) , Gavin Strachan (Coventry) and Frank Lampard (West Ham). Ray Clemence's son has been the only bright spot in Spurs' season to date. Given his first-team chance early due to Spurs' injury crisis he repeatedly caught the eye, which says it all about the application of Spurs' more celebrated players. Young Shilton is more of an unknown entity. He's been a substitute once, at Oakwell last month, but his characteristically taciturn dad won't be drawn on his merits. "He wants to be left alone to get on with his game," says Shilts.

Gordon Strachan, characteristically candid, describes son Gavin as "five foot 10, size 10 feet, as elegant as footballers get; totally different to me in other words". (Craig Strachan, three years younger, is apparently a clone of his dad.)

Frank Lampard, too, is different from dad Frank in that his nose is straighter, his shoulders are broader and as one Hammer succinctly put it, he doesn't regularly put opposing wingers into the stand.

Up front: Mike Macari (Stoke) and Paul Dalglish (Liverpool). The eldest of the Macari brothers (there is also Paul, 21 and Jon, 17), Mike was initially confined to Stoke's reserves by his then manager dad Lou, despite a prolific scoring record. "He was exceptionally good in the reserves but I held him back," recalls Lou, "then the minute I made him sub for the first-team the local paper accused me of nepotism." Macari Jnr is making quite a name for himself this season, while Macari Snr is back in Scotland trying to clear his name. Paul Dalglish, meanwhile, has the hardest act to follow.

As Tommy Burns said of Paul while he was at Celtic: "He looks uncannily like his father, with the same mannerisms, and although he's a strong- minded boy who won't buckle under the burden of expectation, there'll only ever be one Dalglish."

It is hard to follow in the footsteps of a legend, as the sons of all famous footballers will doubtless discover. But this team (managed by Rangers' first-team coach, Tommy Moller-Nielsen, son of the favourite to replace Walter Smith at Ibrox) sounds good on paper, and I bet they would give their dads a run for their money on grass, too.