Tuesday 10 November 2020, 09:19

The Thurams: Like father, like son (and not)

  • Marcus Thuram has been called up to the France team for the first time

  • He was less than a year old when his father Lilian won the FIFA World Cup™

  • Thuram Jr. has been excelling up front for Borussia Monchengladbach

There were some familiar names tripping off Didier Deschamps’ tongue when he announced his latest France squad last week: Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, etc. Then came the name of uncapped Marcus Thuram, a player perhaps not so familiar as the stars before him, but one with a famous father: Lilian Thuram, the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ winner. The two share some very obvious similarities and a few differences too, as FIFA.com explains.

Things in common

A well-known name

The Thurams could almost field a football team of their own, with one member of the family succeeding in every part of the pitch. Marcus’s cousin Yohann played in goal for Troyes, Standard Liege and Le Havre, while father and former right-back Lilian is the most-capped player in France’s history. Midfielder brother Khephren currently runs out for Nice, and Marcus himself has been scoring freely for Borussia Monchengladbach, making his own way in the game and embarking on the same path to success as his father.

France debutants at virtually the same age

Lilian made his France debut at the age of 22 years, seven months and 16 days. If he plays on Wednesday against Finland, Marcus will win his first cap when he is 23 years, three months and five days old. Thuram Jr. will have some way to go to match his father’s international career, however. A multiple trophy winner for his country, Lilian also made a record 142 appearances for France.

European champions

In addition to the FIFA World Cup, Thuram Sr. also helped France win UEFA EURO 2000. In an unforgettable final against Italy, Sylvain Wiltord scored an equaliser deep into stoppage time before David Trezeguet struck a golden goal to give Les Bleus victory. Thuram Jr. has a European crown of his own, having helped France win the U-19 title in 2016. As fate would have it, a France side that also featured Kylian Mbappe, Lucas Tousart, Jean-Kevin Augustin and Amine Harit beat Italy in the final.

He’s very direct and has the ability to change games. He scores goals and sets them up, and he invariably steps up on the big occasion. He’s the son of a famous player and his dad ‘Tutu’ must be so happy. That’s not why he’s here, though. Marcus dese...
Didier Deschamps

Committed to the fight

Lilian has always supported good causes. A UNICEF ambassador, he is also a patron of several anti-racism charities, a vocal opponent of homophobia and a regular presence at diversity seminars. Marcus is following in his footsteps, having been one of the first players to take a knee in tribute to George Floyd back in May.

Marcus Thuram kneeling to give tribute to George Floyd

The photos

Lilian Thuram, pictured with his sons Khephren and Marcus in August 2011

Lilian Thuram with his two sons Khéphren and Marcus

Where they differ

Playing positions

The main difference between father and son is their positions on the pitch. Lilian was a defender, starting out as a right-back before ending his career in the centre of defence. He scored only 17 goals in his playing days, 15 of them at club level and two for France, both of them coming in the semi-final defeat of Croatia at France 1998. Front man Marcus has scored 35 goals in domestic football and nine for France’s youth teams. He has been in excellent form this season and helped himself to a brace against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.


Football history is littered with examples of fathers and sons taking similar career paths. Cesare and Paolo Maldini were both idols at Milan, Jordi Cruyff tried to follow in his father Johan’s footsteps at Barcelona, and Abedi Pele and his two sons, Andre and Jordan Ayew, all excelled at Marseille. The Thurams have charted slightly different courses. Both started their careers in France, but while Lilian moved to Italy to play for Parma and Juventus and then enjoyed a stint in Spain with Barcelona, Marcus’s first move was to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, a league in which his father never played.

Did you know?

  • Lilian Thuram named his son Marcus in tribute to Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political activist and Pan-Africanist thinker.

  • Lilian is Marcus's manager.

  • Brazil’s Ronaldo was Lilian’s toughest opponent and an idol for Marcus.