Hertha Berlin coach Pal Dardai has included his son Palko in a Matchday squad for the first time ahead of Wednesday’s game against Borussia Mönchengladbach. It sounds unusual but many players have followed in their father’s footsteps by playing in the Bundesliga.
Seventeen-year-old Palko is the oldest of three Dardai brothers on Hertha’s books. While Marton and Bence still have a few years to go before they can potentially play for the first team, Palko looks certain to feature sooner rather than later.
His father is something of a club legend – having become the Old Lady’s most-capped player while marshalling the midfield from 1997 to 2011. But this kind of situation clearly runs in the family. The current Hertha manager’s father, also called Pal, is a former professional who played for and coached his son’s first club in Hungary.
“In training with me he’s still a bit inhibited,” Pal Dardai senior told kicker when discussing Palko’s development. “He doesn’t want to make any mistakes.
“I was different. When I was working under my father at his age, it spurred me on.
“Palko is an attacking player, who lives to take risks. I think with time he’ll be clearer in his mind.”
Palko, though, will not have to travel far to get advice on what it is like to tread the same path as your old man in the Bundesliga. Hertha full-back Mitchell Weiser, 22, is the son of former Cologne and Wolfsburg player Patrick, who retired in 2007. Between them, they have featured in 330 top-flight matches.
Legendary former Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn emulated his father Rolf by playing for Karlsruher SC. That pair made 568 Bundesliga appearances, although the elder Kahn only contributed 11 to the total during the 1960s.
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The sadly deceased Stephan Beckenbauer, son of Bayern star Franz, played 12 Bundesliga matches for Saarbrücken in the early 1990s, while Lucas Scholl almost imitated his father Mehmet after appearing on Bayern’s bench for two league games in the 2014/2015 campaign. Gianluca Gaudino, son of former Germany international Maurizio, did force his way into the champions’ midfield in the same season.
Stefan Kuntz, another of Germany’s top marksmen in the 1990s, was the child of Günter Kuntz, who played 80 top-flight matches for Borussia Neunkirchen in the mid-1960s.
Cha Bum-kun was the first South Korean to play in the Bundesliga, lining up as a forward for Darmstadt, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen between 1978 and 1989. Cha Du-ri, who was born just weeks after his father helped Eintracht win the 1980 UEFA Cup, would follow suit by playing for the Eagles as well as Arminia Bielefeld, Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Dieter and Michael Zorc, Souleyman and Leroy Sané, Peter and Roman Neustädter and Franklin and Leonardo Bittencourt are just some of the other father and son duos to have made their mark in the Bundesliga.
Plenty of examples for Palko to draw inspiration from, then, as he makes a promising start to his career in football.