Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today, we focus on Lucas and Theo Hernandez, two brothers that followed their father’s footsteps by playing at the highest level of European football.
Families in Football: Lucas and Theo Hernandez
Lucas and Theo Hernandez were both born in Marseille, France. Their father, Jean-François Hernandez, was also a professional player in Spain & France. He played for Marseille when his two sons were born. Just like his sons, Jean-François played as a defender in his 14-year career. In 2019, Lucas stated that the pair had not seen their father since 2006, meaning the support from their mother allowed them to reach the elite level of football. Lucas stated: “I owe everything to her, she’s the one who brought us up, who took my brother and I to football, who worked I don’t know how many hours to feed us.
“We’ve not heard from our father for 12 or 13 years, not even after winning the World Cup. Now that I’m a father, I’m even more aware of what he’s done, that he has failed in his father’s role,” he revealed in an interview with Le Parisien.
Lucas and Theo Hernandez both started their youth career for Rayo Majadahonda in 2005/06. The club were based in the fourth tier of Spanish football at the time of their arrival.
Lucas Hernandez currently plays for Bayern Munich in the top tier of German football. He predominantly plays as a centre-back or a left-back.
Lucas is the oldest of the two brothers by a little over eight months. After spending two years at Rayo Majadahonda, he moved to the Atletico Madrid youth setup in 2007. He would spend the next five years developing before earning his first cap for the France U16 team. He further amassed appearances with the U18s and U19s before being selected for the 2015 UEFA European U19 Championship Team of the Tournament.
Due to an injury crisis in 2013, Lucas was named on the bench for Atletico Madrid’s game against Villareal, however, he never stepped foot onto the pitch. He made a couple of appearances for the reserve team in 2014 but waited until December to make his full first-team debut. Lucas started in a 3-0 win over CE L’Hospitalet in the Copa del Rey. 18 days later, he played his first top division league game as he came on as a substitute in Atletico’s 4-1 success against Athletic Bilbao.
Lucas became a regular first-team player for Atletico Madrid following his contract renewal in August 2015. He would be part of the team that suffered a devastating penalty shootout loss against Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2016. The defender would become an integral part of Diego Simeone’s tactical plan and would amass just under 70 appearances for the first team. He played an important role in his team’s Europa League win in 2018, a trophy that would become his first professional trophy.
2018 was a special year for Lucas; as well as winning the Europa League, he received his first call-up to the French national team. He played 14 minutes in a 3-2 loss to Russia in a friendly game. His form domestically further earned him a call up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. France stormed through the competition and won the final against Croatia, making them deserving champions. Lucas’ contribution to the team did not go unnoticed as he featured in every single game.
Not known for his scoring ability, Lucas notched his first goal as a professional against SD Huesca in January 2019. His first goal would be followed by his first official transfer as he joined German champions Bayern Munich. The club activated his €80 million release clause, freeing him from his contract with Atletico Madrid after the 2018/19 season. A day after announcing his move, Lucas underwent surgery due to ligament damage in his right knee
Lucas Hernandez’s €80 million move was a club record for the Munich-based side. He became an integral part of the team’s success and led them to a Champions League win in 2020 as well as consecutive Bundesliga titles.
Theo Hernandez currently plays for Italian side AC Milan. He is an important part of the team’s tactical set-up due to his explosiveness from the left-back position.
Just like his brother, Theo joined Atletico Madrid in 2007. He developed in the youth teams until the age of 18 where he was promoted to the B team. He extended his contract in 2016 and was immediately loaned out to Deportivo Alavés, who were playing their first season in La Liga since 2006.
Theo immediately became an important part of the team as he notched 32 appearances in a single season. His first professional goal also appeared whilst on loan, as he scored the winning goal against Athletic Bilbao. He further impressed as he led his team to their first Copa del Rey final ever. Despite scoring in the final, Alavés suffered a 3-1 loss to Barcelona.
Following a successful loan spell in Northern Spain, Hernandez joined Atletico’s cross-town rivals Real Madrid. Los Blancos activated his €24 million release clause in July 2017.
Hernandez originally signed a six-year contract at Real Madrid, however, he stayed one season before being loaned out once again. His first season at the Bernabeu proved to be difficult due to the competition in the left-back position. He still managed to be part of a team that won its third consecutive Champions League as well as the Spanish Super Cup. In the summer of 2018, he was loaned to another Basque club: Real Sociedad, where he made 24 appearances.
When Theo’s Basque adventure ended, AC Milan were interested and acquired him in a deal worth around €20 million.
Since his debut, Theo has appeared over 80 times for the Rossoneri and is fighting for his first trophy with the club. He has scored 14 goals for Milan, which is remarkable from left-back.
Games Played Together and Against
Both players have played for the French national team. Lucas started appearing in 2018 whilst Theo made his first appearance in 2021. They played for the first time together at a professional level in October 2021 and both started against Belgium in the UEFA Nations League semi-final. The game was also memorable for Theo Hernandez as he scored a 90th-minute stunner to beat Belgium and send France to the final.
The two brothers have not played against each other, however, they both made the team sheets in the 2018 Champions League final. Lucas played 90 minutes whereas Theo was an unused substitute.
Lucas Hernandez revealed that their upbringing was far from easy following their father leaving. He started: “My mother didn’t work and we didn’t have any money, that’s the truth. It’s my grandfather who got us out of a hole. I have experienced tough times in my life, and I have always stood up and been strong mentally. That’s what got me to where I am today.”
The two brothers could have represented Spain’s national team. They moved to Spain at a young age and were brought up there by their mother, Laurence. They therefore grew up with Spanish mannerisms and culture however opted to represent the French national team following their appearances with the youth teams.
Lucas Hernandez is also a Légion d’honneur recipient, which is the highest order of merit in France. He received this alongside the entire French squad following their success in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Lucas is also one of the most decorated football players at his age, with 11 trophies to his name at the age of 25. His brother, Theo, holds five career trophies as well as featuring in the Serie A Team of the Year for 2019/20.