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Land of their fathers: Wales’ rising stars keeping it in the family

06 Jun 2024 10 minute read
Wales young stars Charlie Savage, Zach Giggs, Lewis Koumas

Chris Pyke

There is nothing that makes you feel so old than to see the offspring of players you grew up watching making their debuts at club and international level.

When Wales take on Gibraltar in a friendly match in the Algarve today, it looks likely the sons of Wales’ stars Robbie Savage and Jason Koumas will line up together.

In the coming years it is likely we will see some familiar names on the backs of Cymru shirts. And, perhaps, the national side will benefit from those sons who have risen through the ranks in the land of their fathers.

Here’s a rundown of those rising stars with footballing family ties.

Brennan Johnson

He’s far more established than many of the others mentioned below. While he completed a £40m move to Tottenham, it was Nottingham Forest where he made his name, and also the club where his father David was employed for five seasons, albeit spending a large amount of that time out on loan.

Johnson junior was eligible to represent England, Jamaica and Wales at international level. While he played some youth games for England at 18 he switched allegiances to Cymru and scored a goal on his debut as the Under-21s beat Belgium in Wrexham.

For Johnson senior it was more complicated. It was believed he had his pick of all home nation sides, as well as his birth country Jamaica, when it came to international duty due to having a British passport. So, in 1999 he opted for Wales and manager Mark Hughes, and was selected to play, however an ankle injury meant he did make his debut. Seizing this opportunity Craig Brown and Scotland swooped and David switched. In the end, the snub saved Wales from some red faces as it turned out he was not in fact allowed to play for all home nations clubs as his mother had been born in England. There is no such worries for Brennan as he qualifies through maternal grandparents coming from Rhayader.

Charlie Savage

Son of Robbie, 20-year-old Charlie started in the same way his dad at Manchester United, and like Robbie, he didn’t quite make the grade at the Old Trafford club. Charlie did ever so slightly better than his old man by coming on as a substitute for the Red Devils in a Champions League match. It was an emotional Robbie on co-commentary duties that announced the substitution.

And, when Charlie left United for Reading, Savage senior sent an emotional message to his son: “You achieved your dream, you went one better than me, you went 1 better than thousands with the same dream through desire and dedication.”

Charlie signed a four-year deal with the League One club and made his senior Wales debut, ironically, against Gibraltar last October in front of his proud dad at the Racecourse in Wrexham.

Zach Giggs

Another who did not progress from the youth ranks to the senior squad at Manchester United is Zach Giggs, son of Ryan, who departed for the Sheffield United Under 18 team.

If Zach was to have half the career of his dad he’d still have six-and-a-half Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two League Cups, and one Champions League. Which demonstrates what an incredible playing career Ryan had, and what a legacy Zach has hanging over him.

Zach, who at present plays as a left-back, signed for Sheffield United in front of a wall featuring a number of the club’s youth prospects who have gone to varying successful careers. Among the players on display are Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Phil Jagielka.

Silva Mexes

Robert Earnshaw’s 14-year-old son, Silva Mexes, recently signed for Manchester United.

The Wales U14s striker moved to Manchester from Ipswich Town after several Premier League clubs chased his signature.

The youngster wrote on his Instagram account: “Very proud moment for me and my family to announce my signing for Manchester United.

“Thank you for everyone who has helped me on my journey so far. The work starts now.”

His dad is a certified Cardiff City and Wales legend having been capped 59 times for his country, scoring 16 goals, while at club level he scored 82 goals in 169 appearances for the Bluebirds.

Kit Margetson

Martyn Margetson is currently a goalkeeping coach for the England national team and Swansea City – and his son Kit is following in his goalkeeping footsteps.

Dad Martyn youth player at Manchester City, he spent time on loan at Bristol Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Luton Town before moving to Southend United, Huddersfield Town and during his time with Cardiff City in 2002, he went on to win his first and only cap for Wales in a friendly with Canada in May 2004.

Son Kit has now signed a professional contract with Swansea City after coming through their academy.

The young keeper also played a vital role in Wales Under-17s’ triumphant European qualification last year.

Joel Cotterill

The cousin of Wales international David, Cotterill, the Swansea City midfielder is currently on a season-long loan at League Two side Stockport County.

The 18-year-old was the Swans’ academy player of the year last season and signed a three-year deal this summer.

The Wales under-21 international made his senior debut 12 months ago in the Carabao Cup tie with Oxford United, and scored the third goal for the U21s in their 3-2 away victory against Lithuania in U21 European Championship qualifying.

Described as a dynamic, ball-playing midfielder that can play in a number of positions he will be hoping to make a big impact with the League Two side this season.

Zac Jagielka

Phil Jagielka had a successful career, most notably with Everton, and his son Zac is now a forward in Liverpool’s youth setup.

While not only opting for Liverpool in complete opposition of his Evertonian dad, Zac has chosen Wales in contrast to the 40 caps Phil got with England. He was recently picked for Wales’ Under 17’s matches in Poland, with eligibility through a grandparent.

Lewis Koumas

Lewis Koumas, the son of the enigmatic Jason, has had an eventful 12 months.

Koumas appeared in the senior Liverpool squad for the first time on 14 December 2023, remaining an unused substitute in a 2–1 loss to Union SG in the Europa League.

Koumas was an unused substitute on 25 February 2024 in the 2024 EFL Cup final at Wembley Stadium, in which Liverpool beat Chelsea 1–0 after extra time.

Koumas made his first team debut for Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round against Southampton on 28 February 2024. On his debut, he scored his first senior goal for the club late in the first half in an eventual 3–0 win.

Koumas was named in the Wales U19 national team in March 2023 for matches against Scotland U19. He made his debut on 23 March, starting in a 2–1 win for Wales before being substituted in the 55th minute. He was called up again in June and scored in a 2–2 draw against Sweden. Koumas made his debut for the Wales under-21 team on 22 March 2024, scoring the second goal in the 2025 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying match 2-1 win against Lithuania.

Last month he received his first call-up to the senior squad, for the friendly fixtures against Gibraltar and Slovakia.

Koumas Snr also started his career at Liverpool, playing alongside Steven Gerrard, but opted to switch Anfield for Tranmere’s Prenton Park. He finished his career at the Birkenhead club 17 years later after stints at West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic, plus two loans to Cardiff City.

Jack Ruddy

Unlike seniors Giggs, Savage, and Koumas, dad John Ruddy’s international appearance was for England.

However, his son Jack, who is sensible has chosen Wales.

A goalkeeper, like his father, is on the books at Norwich City, also a former club of his dad, and last summer was selected in the Cymru Under 16 team.

Prince Cisse

Another youngster whose father’s international career was not with Wales is Prince Cisse, son of French forward Djibril.

Cisse senior had a successful, most notably with Liverpool, being part of the famous 2005 Champions League winning team, and it was while he was at Anfield that he purchased a manor house in Cheshire and became the Lord of the Manor of Frodsham. A month after the miracle of Istanbul Cisse married Welsh hairdresser Jude Littler and, before divorcing in 2014, they had three children.

Prince, who recently made his debut for Liverpool U18s, has thankfully chosen to play for Cymru.

Owen Beck

While not a son, Owen Beck is the great-nephew of Wales and Liverpool legend Ian Rush, and he is also contracted to the Premier League club.

Beck, a left-back, had a successful loan spell at Dundee and graduated from Wales Under 17 to the Under 21s.

Liverpool have had a strong connection with young Welsh talent, not too long ago goalkeeper Danny Ward, Harry Wilson, Neco Williams, and Ben Woodburn were all on the books at Anfield. While, none of them remain, Ward, Wilson and Williams are all strong members of the international side.

Sonny Ramsey

Last summer when Aaron Ramsey signed for Cardiff City, another player signed a letter of intent the same day, 10-year-old Sonny Ramsey.

Who knows in eight years Sonny Ramsey could be making his debut for Cymru. Maybe even under manager Aaron Ramsey.

Aaron Ramsey with son Sonny (Credit: Cardiff City FC)

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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
12 minutes ago

Land of our Mothers?

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