Famous footballing twins: Sons of Man United great sign pro contracts at Old Trafford

Manchester United heralded the second generation of a family dynasty this week as Darren Fletcher’s two sons, Jack and Tyler, both signed their first professional contracts with the club.

Fletcher represented United more than 200 times during a 12-year career at Old Trafford, during which the dependable midfielder won five Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Champions League among a raft of honours before also serving as a coach and technical director since his retirement in 2020.

United secured the services of the next generation of Fletcher talent by signing up Darren’s offspring last summer when the pair joined from Manchester City. Since then, Jack has taken part in some first-team training sessions under manager Erik ten Hag and Tyler has excelled in the youth-team ranks this season.

The 17-year-old twins announced their respective deals in fitting fashion by sharing near-identical posts on their Instagram accounts, each expressing their pride having signed pro terms with United.

Having both now made the grade as professional players in their own right, Jack and Tyler Fletcher become the latest additions to the list of footballing twins. Here are just a few of the more notable examples.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was first published on May 15, 2020

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As well as being the most famous footballing twins of all time, the De Boer brothers are also arguably the most successful. Between them the pair won 179 caps for Netherlands and a total of 33 winners’ medals over the course of their playing careers, including the Champions League.

In fact, Frank and Ronald played together at no fewer than five different clubs — Ajax, Barcelona, Rangers in Europe and then Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal in Qatar.

The Van de Kerkhof brothers were precursors to the De Boers, with the Netherlands-born twins playing for both FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven together. They also both went to the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, losing in the finals of both tournaments.

Should they both make it into the first team, the Fletchers will not be the first twins to play on the same team at Old Trafford. Brazilian full-backs Fabio and Rafael made their names at Manchester United after signing from Fluminense together in 2008. They spent the next six years playing alongside each other before going their separate ways.

The pair both played in Ligue 1 — Fabio at Nantes, Rafael at Lyon — before returning to Brazil. Fabio is at Grêmio and Rafael plays for Botafogo — the club he and his twin brother both supported as kids.

Of course, Megan is the iconic two-time World Cup-winning star of the USWNT, as well as the recipient of the 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or and FIFA The Best Women’s Player award.

You may not know that her twin sister, Rachael, also represented the United States at the under-23 level and spent a season playing pro football in Iceland with Stjarnan Women in 2010.

A stalwart of Serie A for many years, ex-Inter Milan hardman Radja Nainggolan is currently playing in Indonesia with Bhayangkara at the age of 35.

The former Belgium international also has a twin sister, Raina, who played professional football and futsal and also represented her country in 2015.

Paul’s older twin siblings may not have quite enjoyed their younger brother’s level of success — most notably winning the World Cup for France in 2018 — but are serviceable journeymen who have played in France, Scotland, England and MLS as well as both representing Guinea at international level.

The near-identical utility midfielders came through the ranks together at 1860 Munich as youngsters before parting ways — Lars to Bayer Leverkusen and Sven to Borussia Dortmund — only to be reunited again in 2017 when the latter joined his brother at Leverkusen.

Both brothers have since retired with Lars taking a coaching position within the Germany international youth ranks and Sven in situ as assistant manager at Dortmund.

The tall and intimidating Berezutski brothers formed a human wall in defence for both CSKA Moscow and Russia’s national side from 2003 to 2016.

Both Turkey internationals and Schalke stalwarts, the Altintop twins enjoyed decent careers. Hamit — who is 10 minutes older — was a gifted midfielder who won the 2010 Puskas Award with a thunderous volley against Kazakhstan.

Having come through the Norwich City academy together, the twin wingers have seen their careers diverge since then with Jacob playing in the Champions League this season with Newcastle United and Josh plying his trade in League One with Oxford United.

Both left-backs by trade, the Sweden internationals have forged decent professional careers, even playing together at Blackburn Rovers for a short while. After similar stints in English football, the Olsson brothers are now both back playing in the Swedish league with Martin at Malmö and Marcus at Halmstad.

The Olssons’ brother-in-law is former NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, who married the twins’ older sister Jessica in 2012.

The Wallaces were the very first twins to play in the Premier League, with both playing for Leeds United in the early 1990s. Ray bowed out after just seven appearances, but Rod went on to score 45 goals in 197 top-flight games.

However, the story of the Wallaces actually started at Southampton, where older brother Danny broke into the first team in 1980. Ray and Rod then both signed for the Saints, and in October 1988, against Sheffield Wednesday, all three were on the pitch at the same time. It was the first time three brothers had played for the same team in 68 years.

Both the sons of a professional footballer, Ramiro (the centre-back) is the one who used to play for Everton, while Rogelio (the striker) has been banging in the goals for Monterrey to the point where he is the club’s all-time top scorer.

Former goalkeeper Thomas is revered as one of Sweden’s greatest-ever players having accrued 143 senior caps; representing his country at the 1990 World Cup, Euro 1992 and the 1994 World Cup, and even winning the prestigious Guldbollen award in 1981.

That said, centre-back Andreas was a decent player too and managed to muster a perfectly respectable 41 international caps of his own.

The brothers were selected to represent Switzerland at the 2006 World Cup. There’s not a lot to split their careers, with both winning multiple Swiss league titles at Basel (four times together), though Philipp has over twice the number of international caps as his brother. Philipp probably edges it, though, having played for Liverpool and spent three seasons at Dortmund.

The Holdsworths started out together as youngsters at Watford in the late 1980s before their careers took separate paths. However, they did reunite at Bolton in the 1990s for a very brief time before both moved into management.

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