Brenden Aaronson’s arrival at Union Berlin sees him reunited in Germany with brother Paxten. They’re set become the first American siblings to play together in the Bundesliga, but what other notable brotherly duos have graced the German game?
bundesliga.com takes you through 10 famous footballing fraternities…
1) Klaus and Thomas Allofs
Perhaps not the names you were expecting first up, but there is no more prolific brotherly bond in the Bundesliga than that of the Allofs. Combined they made 802 appearances and scored 325 goals in the German top flight – both records for a set of siblings.
The Düsseldorf natives each started out at local side Fortuna, contributing to the club’s golden era with back-to-back DFB Cup triumphs in 1979 and 1980, as well as reaching the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1979. Klaus was also Bundesliga top scorer in 1978/79 before joining local rivals Cologne in 1981, again winning the Torjägerkanone in 1984/85.
Thomas would also sign for the Billy Goats, via a stint at Kaiserslautern, in 1986, reuniting the brothers for another year. He would match his older sibling with a top scorer crown in 1988/89. They also both spent time in France – Klaus with Marseille and Bordeaux; Thomas at Strasbourg. The former currently sits joint-ninth on the Bundesliga’s all-time scoring chart with 177 goals, while the younger Thomas is 17th on 148.
They played together a total of 86 times in the Bundesliga for Düsseldorf and Cologne, as well as 10 times on opposing sides. Klaus just edged the head-to-head with four wins to three.
2) Kevin-Prince and Jerome Boateng
One of the most famous sporting brothers of the modern era in Germany, the Berlin-born Boatengs both came through at Hertha and played two Bundesliga games together. Born just over a year apart, they also played alongside each other in Germany’s three qualifying matches for the 2006 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
Prince’s career has been somewhat nomadic, with 163 Bundesliga appearances spread out across spells at four different clubs (Hertha, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt), as well as stints in England (Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth), Italy (AC Milan, Sassuolo, Fiorentina and Monza), Spain (Las Palmas and Barcelona) and Turkey (Besiktas).
Jerome, meanwhile, spent 10 hugely successful years at Bayern Munich after time at Hamburg and Manchester City, winning the Bundesliga nine times, the DFB Cup on five occasions and the Champions League twice as part of trebles in 2013 and 2020.
Despite a combined 477 Bundesliga appearances, encounters between the half-brothers have been quite rare with two wins for Jerome, one for Kevin-Prince and one draw. However, the Boatengs did make history in 2010 as the first brothers to face each other on opposing sides at the FIFA World Cup, with Jerome’s Germany prevailing 1-0 over Kevin-Prince’s Ghana (their father’s homeland) in South Africa. Remarkably, they met again four years later in Brazil, drawing 2-2, but with Jerome and Germany going on to lift the trophy.
3) Halil and Hamit Altintop
The Bundesliga’s twin title holders – if there were such an award – goes to the Gelsenkirchen-born Altintop brothers for their combined 543 appearances in the German top flight. The slightly older Halil accounts for 351 of those games across spells with Kaiserslautern, Schalke, Frankfurt and Augsburg, scoring 67 times. Hamit made 192 appearances (15 goals) with Schalke, Bayern and Darmstadt, but probably wins on the trophy front.
Having both broken through at local side Wattenscheid in the early 2000s and after spending three years together in the third tier, Hamit got his move to Schalke in 2003 before being picked up by Bayern in 2007, where he’d win the Bundesliga and DFB Cup double twice and play in the 2010 Champions League final. He’d pick up further silverware at Real Madrid and Galatasaray.
Forward Halil joined his midfielder twin brother at Schalke in 2006. Since coming through together in 2000, they played a total of 135 times together at Wattenscheid, Schalke and for Turkey’s U21s and senior side. Although born in Germany, the pair both opted to represent their parents’ homeland at international level.
Hamit, who now works for the Turkish FA, holds the upper hand in direct encounters with seven wins from 12, while Halil – currently the sporting director as Bayern’s academy – has three wins, including the last meeting as his Augsburg beat Darmstadt in 2016/17. All but one of those games took place while with German teams. They also drew 0-0 in 2012/13 when Halil’s Tranzonspor held Hamit’s Galatasaray in the Turkish league.
4) Lars and Sven Bender
The Benders would no doubt have been the Bundesliga’s top twins if not for injuries, having amassed 521 appearances between them. They are also the 14th and most recent set of brothers to earn caps for Germany, but only the second twins after Erwin and Helmut Kremers. Lars and Sven also hold the honour of being the only joint winners of the Golden Player award at the U19 Euros, earned in 2008’s title-winning edition.
Born in the Bavarian town of Rosenheim on 27 April 1989, they were inseparable in a footballing sense, playing together at Brannenburg, Unterhaching and then 1860 Munich, where they made their senior breakthroughs. It was only in 2009 that they finally went separate ways, Lars going to Bayer Leverkusen and Sven to Borussia Dortmund. The older Lars would spend the rest of his professional career at the BayArena, clocking up 256 Bundesliga appearances.
Meanwhile, Sven was part of Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund side that won the Bundesliga in 2011 and the double in 2012. He lifted the DFB Cup again in 2017, also winning three out of six brotherly encounters, before reuniting with Lars in Leverkusen in 2017. The aforementioned injuries meant they actually only played 57 Bundesliga games together (all with Leverkusen) over four years. The pair announced together that they would be retiring from professional football at the end of 2021/22. Their final act on a Bundesliga pitch was to see Sven, who’d earlier scored a consolation penalty away at former club Dortmund, replaced in the closing moments by Lars.
5) Niko and Robert Kovac
Winning the battle of Berlin-born brothers and cracking the top 10 for combined sibling appearances with 488, Niko and Robert both enjoyed illustrious playing careers. The older Niko had spells at Hertha, Leverkusen, Hamburg and Bayern to amass 241 Bundesliga games, also appearing at four major tournaments for Croatia and captaining his country.
Three years his junior, Robert would succeed Niko as Croatia captain and finish with slightly more Bundesliga appearances (247) after stints with Nuremberg, Leverkusen, Bayern and Dortmund, plus spells abroad with Juventus and Dinamo Zagreb. Including international games, they played together 151 times (65 in the Bundesliga for Leverkusen and Bayern), and won the 2002/03 domestic double and 2001 Intercontinental Cup as teammates in Munich. They were opponents only five times in the Bundesliga.
Some brothers get fed up of being around each other all the time, but not the Kovacs. After retiring, Niko went into coaching at Salzburg and in 2013 would become boss of the Croatia U21s, where he brought in Robert as his assistant. The pair have since worked together with the senior national team, Frankfurt, Bayern, Monaco and currently Wolfsburg.
6) Karl-Heinz and Michael Rummenigge
The Rummenigge name will forever be primarily associated with that of Karl-Heinz, but younger brother Michael was by no means living off his brother’s status as one of the best players of his generation. Together they made 619 Bundesliga appearances and scored 242 goals – second only to the Allofs family.
Striker Karl-Heinz joined Bayern from boyhood club Borussia Lippstadt in 1974 as a shy 18-year-old, somewhat in the shadow of Gerd Müller, but would go on to emerge as a leading figure for the club and sits third on Bayern’s Bundesliga scoring chart with 162 goals from 310 games, behind only Müller and Robert Lewandowski. ‘Kalle’ helped the club to two European Cups, two Bundesliga titles and two DFB Cups, was a Bundesliga top scorer three times, two-time Ballon d’Or winner, and helped Germany to Euro 1980 success. He left Germany for Inter Milan in 1984 before returning to Bayern in 1991 at board level. He would become the club’s first CEO in 2002 and led them through a golden era before stepping down in 2021.
It was always going to be big boots for Michael – nine years younger – to fill, but he followed his older brother from Lippstadt to Bayern as a 17-year-old in 1981, making 29 Bundesliga appearances together and also winning the 1985 DFB Cup. Although constantly compared with his superstar brother, Michael more than did his bit, lifting five titles with 44 goals in 152 appearances before a 1988 move to Dortmund. He helped them to DFB Cup glory in his first season and captained the club in 1991/92. He left for Japan in 1993 with 309 Bundesliga appearances – one shy of his brother’s total. He also earned two senior caps for Germany, playing alongside Karl-Heinz on his debut from the bench in a 5-1 European qualifier win over Turkey, where Kalle scored twice.
Karl-Heinz is now part of the supervisory board at Bayern, while Michael often plays for Dortmund’s legends team. There’s also a third Rummenigge brother. Wolfgang is the eldest but only played semi-professionally.
7) Uli and Dieter Hoeneß
The Hoeneß family of Ulm is probably the German equivalent to the Charltons of English football. Together, Uli and Dieter made 538 Bundesliga appearances and scored 213 goals – mostly both for Bayern.
Uli is Bobby, but somewhat more outspoken. A brilliant striker who was once known as Europe’s quickest forward, he won pretty much everything he could after joining Bayern in 1970: the Bundesliga (three times), the European Cup (three times in a row), the DFB Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, as well as the World Cup and European Championship with Germany. A knee injury forced him to hang up his boots in 1979, before becoming the youngest general manager in Bundesliga history, aged just 27. He would go on to revolutionise the way Bayern worked in a number of roles, turning them into the winning and money-making machine that we see today.
It was in fact Uli who signed Dieter for Bayern in 1979. The younger Hoeneß would score 102 times in 224 Bundesliga games in Munich, to go with 25 in 64 for VfB Stuttgart, and would average a goal every other games in his 52 European appearances for Bayern. He finished his career with more Bundesliga (five) and DFB Cup (three) titles than Uli, while also scoring and playing more in the Bundesliga, but his older brother’s success at board level at Bayern always overshadowed things. Dieter would also go on to work behind the scenes at Stuttgart, Hertha and Wolfsburg. His son Sebastian is currently head coach at Stuttgart, having previously been in charge at Hoffenheim and won the 3. Liga title with Bayern’s reserves.
8) Sami and Rani Khedira
Few players in the world boast a trophy collection quite like Sami Khedira, having won the league in Germany, Spain and Italy, the domestic cup in the latter two with Real Madrid and Juventus, the Champions League with Los Blancos and, of course, the 2014 World Cup with Germany. It all started out for the central midfielder at hometown club Stuttgart, which was where he won the Bundesliga in 2007 and made 98 of his 107 Bundesliga appearances. He returned to Germany in 2021 for a brief stint at Hertha.
Emerging from that shadow was always going to be difficult for a younger brother, but in recent years Rani has made a name for himself in his own right at the heart of a history-making Union Berlin side, even scoring the goal in 2022/23 that secured them Champions League qualification. There was even talk of him following in Sami’s footsteps by playing for Germany, but that call-up is yet to come. He has also turned down the opportunity to represent Tunisia, their father’s homeland. Add in prior spells at Stuttgart, RB Leipzig and Augsburg, and the holding midfielder has accumulated over 200 Bundesliga appearances in his own right.
That gives the Khedira brothers a combined 310 Bundesliga games as of summer 2023. There’s also a third sibling, Denny, who isn’t as gifted with his feet but has been using his brain in a career in sports management, also helping to manage his brothers’ affairs.
9) Raffael and Ronny
While the Kovacs don’t count as German when considering international allegiances, they were born and raised in Berlin. It means the honour of non-German brothers with the most Bundesliga appearances goes to the de Araujo’s of Raffael and Ronny.
The older Raffael was the first to arrive when he joined Hertha in 2008, scoring 39 times in 163 competitive appearances over three-and-a-half seasons, playing in both the UEFA Cup and Europa League, but also twice suffering relegation. After a brief stint on loan at Schalke from Dynamo Kyiv, he was reunited with old coach Lucien Favre at Borussia Mönchengladbach. It was there that the forward enjoyed his best years, scoring 57 goals in 164 Bundesliga games and emerging as a fan favourite. His final game for the club saw him wear the captain’s armband against Hertha as Gladbach secured Champions League qualification. In 2020, he gained German citizenship.
A little over a year younger, Ronny followed his brother to Hertha in 2010 after joining from Sporting Lisbon. The Fortaleza natives played together 30 times as the Berliners gained promotion back to the Bundesliga in 2010/11 and then in the top flight the following season. The forward made a total of 123 appearances for the Old Lady, with 57 in the Bundesliga for a combined 347 top-flight games between the brothers in Germany. It places them just ahead of compatriots Dede and Leandro of Dortmund (334).
10) Jürgen, Klaus and Stephan Täuber
Only one family has ever produced three siblings to play in the Bundesliga – the Täubers of Erlangen. Eldest Jürgen and middle brother Klaus joined Nuremberg together in 1976 to take their first steps in professional football. Jürgen would feature a total of 140 times in the Bundesliga for Der Club and Schalke, making 14 appearances alongside Klaus at the former.
Klaus enjoyed the more prolific career with 155 goals in 373 competitive games for Nuremberg, Stuttgarter Kickers, Schalke and Leverkusen, winning the UEFA Cup with the latter.
The third brother, Stephan, was some 11 years younger than Jürgen, meaning they never got to play together and that there was never an occasion with all three brothers on a pitch together in the Bundesliga. He did play two of his 18 Bundesliga games (also for Schalke and Nuremberg) alongside Klaus while in Gelsenkirchen.
Other notable brothers in the Bundesliga
Toni and Felix Kroos (253 appearances; 173/80)
Mario and Felix Götze (269 appearances; 263/6) – a third brother, Fabian, never played a Bundesliga game
Nico and Keven Schlotterbeck (176 appearances; 93/83)
Ditmar and Michael Jakobs (689 appearances; 493/196)
Friedhelm and Wolfgang Funkel (625 appearances; 320/305)
Bernd and Karlheinz Förster (563 appearances; 291/272)
Erwin and Helmut Kremers (534 appearances; 261/273)
Lukas and Felix Nmecha (93 appearances; 47/46)
Julian and Jonathan de Guzman (130 appearances; 78/52)
Maximilian and Johannes Eggestein (264 appearances; 218/46)
Benjamin and Florian Hübner (148 appearances; 122/26)
Joel and Marvin Matip (306 appearances; 194/112)
Dietmar and Matthias Hamann (164 appearances; 106/58)
Timothy and Malik Tillman (39 appearances; 35/4)
Leroy and Sidi Sane (144 appearances; 143/1)
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