Keeping it in the family: Mazinho, Alcântara and Rafinha

The expectation on young footballers to make it to the big time is ten fold when they are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a former professional footballer as a father.

Many have failed to live up to the hype of a world-beating parent, but one man who seems to be well on track is Bayern Munich and Spain midfielder Thiago Alcântara.

The former Barcelona playmaker has a World Cup winning father in the form of Mazinho, who lifted football’s most-prestigious accolade in 1994 with Brazil.

MazinhoMazinho played 35 times for the Seleção over a five-year period, and although versatile enough to fit in at full-back, was predominantly used as a defensive midfielder.

While the likes of Romário and Bebeto caught the footballing world’s imagination during the World Cup in the United States, Mazinho played a considerable role in his side’s success through hard work in the centre and right of midfield.

Mazinho’s movement between clubs during his career, and as a result countries, led to Alcântara’s options internationally.

The Brazilian midfield spent a season at Lecce and Fiorentina apiece in Italy, where Alcântara was born, before spending seven years in Spain with Valencia, Celta Vigo and Elche.

When selecting what country he would represent, Alcântara had the enviable choice of choosing between some of the world’s best and most historic footballing nations; Brazil, Spain or Italy.

With Mazinho switching clubs, Alcântara’s upbringing and footballing education was spread between Brazil and Spain. However, he got involved with the European nation’s national youth set-up from under-16 level, and once snapped up by the Barcelona academy never looked back.

The talented playmaker emerged from La Masia as one of the brightest prospects to grace the Camp Nou in some time, but found regular first-team football an uncertainty and has since moved to European champions Bayern Munich.

Injury has plagued his time in Germany so far, and the 22-year-old has only made two domestic appearances to date for the Allianz Arena outfit. With the World Cup to be played in his father’s homeland next summer, Alcântara has work to do to make it into the squad of the world champions and add to his four caps.

Mazinho’s legacy is not solely to be continued by Alcântara, as his brother and the Brazilian’s second son, Rafa Alcântara (better known as Rafinha), is also on Barcelona’s books.

RafinhaRafinha was born in Brazil, but like his brother is a graduate of the La Masia academy in Catalunya. Great things are expected of the 20-year-old after impressive performances for Barcelona B, but he is yet to represent the Blaugrana’s senior side. Aptly, he will spend this term on loan at Celta Vigo, where his father spent four years as a player.

The skillful attacking midfielder also had to choose between Brazil and Spain internationally. He was in line to represent La Roja in the future after playing for Spain under-16, 17 and 19’s, but switched his allegiances to the land of his birth, Brazil, this year. He has so far played three times for Brazil under-20’s.

As both Alcântara and Rafinha develop, there could well be a chance that the pair will play against each other on the national stage.

Father Mazinho would certainly be torn with one playing for Brazil, the other for Spain, but he is undoubtedly proud of the two brothers continuing his footballing legacy.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo,, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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