Football is a game of friendship. For fans, it is a social outlet where you can meet people with the same passion for the beautiful game.
However, it also extends to the pitch to those playing (and managing) the game we love. So, here are some of 90min’s favourite bromances - and partnerships - in the world of football.
1. Frank Lampard & John Terry – England, Chelsea
Starting with two icons of the English game, Lampard formed Terry a formidable bond. The two London-born boys were at the heart of Chelsea’s most successful era, leading the Blues to a historic Champions League triumph in 2012. They were also established internationals, earning a combined 184 caps for the Three Lions.
2. Lionel Messi & Luis Suárez – Barcelona
As soon as Suárez joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2014, it was clear that he and Messi would be unstoppable. In 2019 alone they scored a combined tally of 76 goals, and their time together at the Camp Nou means that their connection is just as prevalent off the pitch.
3. Francesco Totti & Daniele De Rossi – Italy, Roma
An eternal bond born in the eternal city, Totti and De Rossi were the ultimate Giallorossi icons. They spent a wonderful 16 years together in Rome, reaching the pinnacle of world football when they won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. This year marked the end of an era, as both players finally left Roma for good.
4. Ronaldinho & Deco – Barcelona
While their Blaugrana careers crossed over for just four years, Ronaldinho’s partnership with Deco brought new life to the Camp Nou. Their connection was pivotal to Barcelona, as the pair helped the Catalan club to two La Liga titles and the Champions League in 2006.
5. Mario Götze & Marco Reus – Germany, Borussia Dortmund
Despite the individual quality and close bond of Götze and Reus, their time together has been cut short due to several interludes. Götze spent three years at rivals Bayern Munich in between his two stints at Borussia Dortmund, while Reus’ recurring injury problems have limited his time with the German national team.
6. Steven Gerrard & Xabi Alonso – Liverpool
Gerrard and Alonso created a talented midfield anchor at Liverpool, with their strong chemistry crucial to the Reds’ success. They played a huge part in Liverpool’s famous Champions League triumph, both scoring in the "Miracle of Istanbul" 14 years ago.
7. Andrea Pirlo & Gennaro Gattuso – Italy, Milan
Two of Italy’s most gracious central midfielders played a key part in helping the Azzurri win their fourth World Cup in 2006. While sharing a fruitful friendship, Pirlo has also spoken of the other side of their relationship, describing in his autobiography how Gattuso “would grab a fork and try to stick it in us”.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo & Marcelo - Real Madrid
Ronaldo and Marcelo had a wonderful relationship at Real Madrid, and a combination that began and ended thanks to Ronaldo's big money moves to Juventus in 2018. Their link-up play on the left side of the pitch was ruthless, and their time together helped them form a special bond.
9. Zlatan Ibrahimović & Maxwell – Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, Inter
When looking for a bond in football that has stood the test of time, look no further than Ibrahimović and Maxwell. First playing together in 2001, the Swedish striker and the Brazilian defender played together at four clubs in four countries, achieving success together wherever they went.
10. Franck Ribéry & Arjen Robben - Bayern Munich
In another partnership that just reached its conclusion, Ribery and Robben were the most feared midfield pair in Germany for years. After a decade together at Bayern Munich, 2019 marked the end of an era as both players announced their departuresfrom the Bavarian club.
11. Xavi & Iker Casillas – Spain
El Clásico rivals throughout the season, Xavi and Casillas went from foes to friends when playing for the Spanish national team. The two had a tight bond and were a part of the record breaking La Roja side that won the country’s first ever World Cup back in South Africa in 2010.
12. Lionel Messi & Sergio Agüero – Argentina
While Messi has many strong relationships at Barcelona, one of his most special ones comes from the national team. He has played alongside Manchester City’s Agüero for the last 13 years, as they go into this year’s Copa America hoping to win for the first time since 1993.
13. Olivier Giroud & Laurent Koscielny – France, Arsenal
Now playing on different sides of London, Giroud and Koscielny remain teammates when they go for international duty with Les Bleus. They spent three years together at Arsenal from 2012 to 2015, before Giroud switched the Emirates for Stamford Bridge as he joined Chelsea.
14. David Villa & Pepe Reina – Spain
This Spanish partnership was at its prime in the 2010 World Cup, despite Reina not playing a single minute. Villa was the star of the show in South Africa, and their bond was immortalised in their World Cup victory nine years ago.
15. Thibaut Courtois & Eden Hazard – Belgium, Chelsea, Real Madrid
It seems that Courtois and Hazard’s relationship is reflected in their transfer history, from London to Madrid and vice versa. Courtois moved to Stamford Bridge a year after Hazard’s arrival, while Hazard recently earned his dream move to Real Madrid 11 months after Courtois made the same switch.
16. Keylor Navas & Bryan Ruiz - Costa Rica
These Costa Rican teammates and friends both played a huge part in their country’s immortalised World Cup campaign five years ago in Brazil, as they reached the quarter-finals of the tournament.
17. David Luiz & Thiago Silva – Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain
Luiz and Silva have formed a valuable friendship throughout their time together on and off the pitch, after years playing in a centre back partnership. They spent two years together at the heart of the Paris Saint-Germain defence, and strengthening their bond further while playing together for Brazil.
18. Iker Casillas & Sergio Ramos – Spain, Real Madrid
Casillas and Ramos spent ten years together at Los Blancos, with their time together in the national team strengthening their relationship even further. While Casillas moved on to Porto and Ramos remained at the Santiago Bernabeu, the two Real Madrid legends remain close friends.
19. Pep Guardiola & Tito Vilanova – Barcelona
First meeting at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, Guardiola was a very close friend with the late Vilanova. They continued together in management, as Vilanova served as his assistant at Barcelona from 2008 to 2012, where they won 14 trophies together before Vilanova took over as manager.
20. José Mourinho & Rui Faria - Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Porto, Inter
Mourinho met Faria at Porto when they both joined the club in 2002, winning the Champions League after two years. The Portuguese compatriots continued together as manager and assistant manager respectively, going on to work together at Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter and Manchester United.
21. Dani Alves & Neymar – Brazil, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain
Alves and Neymar first became friends while on international duty, with the latter entering the national team setup four years after Alves. Since then they have had trophy-laden careers, winning seven trophies at Barcelona and five trophies at Paris Saint-Germain together.
22. Álvaro Morata & Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus
While Morata only spent two seasons in Turin, he formed a strong relationship with Chiellini during that time. The duo won five domestic honours together in Italy, but missed out on the Champions League as they were beaten in the final by Barcelona in 2015.
23. Diego Godín & Antoine Griezmann - Atlético Madrid
With both Godin and Griezmann announcing that they would leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, this year marks the end of a five-year era. The duo have an excellent relationship on and off the pitch, and were key in helping restore the Colchoneros to success.
24. Lionel Messi & José Pinto – Barcelona
Messi makes another appearance on this list, though this time with Barcelona’s former reserve goalkeeper. Despite Pinto’s limited game time with the Blaugrana during his six-year stint, he formed a strong bond with the Argentine and they remain close friends off the pitch.
25. Mousa Dembélé & Jan Vertonghen – Belgium, Tottenham
Having earned their first senior Belgium call-ups within a year of each other, Dembélé and Vertonghen have a special bond that was further built on when they both joined Tottenham in 2012. However, their time together at Spurs recently came to an end, as Dembélé traded London for China.
26. Roberto Carlos & Ronaldo – Brazil, Real Madrid
Part of the iconic first generation of the Galácticos, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo’s Brazilian connection contributed greatly to their friendship and success on the pitch. They were at the heart of a world class Real Madrid side, as well as one of the Selecao’s best generations of players.
27. Sergio Ramos & Mesut Özil - Real Madrid
Özil spent just three years in the Spanish capital, but became an appreciated teammate by his captain. They formed a close relationship throughout their time together at the Bernabeu, one that the German called an end to as he left for Arsenal in 2013.
28. Luka Modrić & Gareth Bale - Real Madrid, Tottenham
Modrić and Bale have now been teammates for a decade, as they made the same switch from White Hart Lane to the Bernabeu. They have always had a strong bond and remain close friends, though whether their time together in Spain will continue is a doubt.
29. Luis Suárez & Diego Godín – Uruguay
While both of these men share strong bonds at their respective clubs, their relationship through the Celeste is a special one. Suárez and Godín have represented Uruguay together for the last 12 years, both playing at the last three consecutive World Cups.
30. Gerard Piqué & Cesc Fàbregas – Spain, Barcelona
Piqué and Fàbregas have long been friends since their La Masia days, where they spent six years together. The Catalan stars bonded through their time on the national team and at Barcelona, though they only spent three years together in the first team.
31. Nacho Monreal & César Azpilicueta – Spain, Osasuna
Monreal and Azpilicueta’s bond stretches back to their early days, as they were both born in Pamplona in northern Spain. The defensive duo were in Osasuna’s first team for three years together, before stints in Europe saw them end up as London rivals with Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.
32. Carlos Valderrama & Faustino Asprilla - Colombia
This friendship has truly lasted the test of time, with both Colombian legends retiring from active play long ago. Valderrama and Asprilla were central to the Colombian national team's golden era in the early 90's, leading them to the 1994 World Cup.
33. Carlos Vela & Giovani dos Santos – Mexico
Vela and Dos Santos are an iconic pair in Mexican football, with a strong bond formed after they both made their national team debuts in 2007. The duo were most recently plying their trade in opposite ends of Los Angeles, and have played at five combined World Cups.
34. Radamel Falcao & James Rodríguez - Colombia, Porto, Monaco
The modern day Colombian duo have been close friends for a long time, starting with James’ arrival at Porto in 2010. From then on the two forwards formed a deadly partnership, combining for many goals and achievements at Monaco and for the national team later on.
35. Frenkie De Jong & Matthijs De Ligt – the Netherlands, Ajax
The newest addition to this list features the exciting Ajax pair, who gained attention during Ajax’s recent run to the Champions League semi-final. While their time together in Amsterdam is now over with De Jong joining Barcelona, they have huge potential in what they can do for the Netherlands.
36. Neymar & Philippe Coutinho – Brazil
Neymar and Coutinho could’ve been a special partnership at Barca, but the former’s Blaugrana career ended just before Coutinho’s began. Nevertheless, they have a good friendship from playing for Brazil, as they were both involved in the Selecao’s squad in last summer’s World Cup.
37. Carlos Vela & Antoine Griezmann - Real Sociedad
Vela and Griezmann appear once again on this list, as we rewind back to their team at Real Sociedad. The Mexican and French internationals formed a solid partnership in San Sebastián, spending three years together in Basque country before Griezmann left for Atlético.
38. Jorge Sampaoli & Sebastián Beccacece – Argentina, Chile
Returning to the world of management temporarily, Sampaoli met Beccacece back in 2002 while they were both with the Argentinian national team. After spending time together in the Peruvian and Chilean leagues, Beccacece remained as Sampaoli’s loyal assistant manager for many years.
39. Luis Montes & Carlos Peña – Mexico, León
Having both represented Mexico at international level, Montes and Peña met at Mexican side Club León. They formed their bond while playing youth football at Pachuca, but have since parted ways as Peña recently signed for Polish side GKS Tychy.
40. Martín Palermo & Guillermo Barros Schelotto - Boca Juniors
In South America and Boca Juniors especially, Palermo and Barros Schelotto formed a close-knit relationship together playing in Buenos Aires. Palermo spent 11 years with the club over two stints, playing alongside Barros Schelotto who spent ten consecutive years there.
41. Paolo Guerrero & Jefferson Farfán – Peru
Farfán and Guerrero met while playing for the Peru national team, as they made their debuts in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Since then, they have become great friends and made history with La Blanquirroja, as they helped Peru reach the World Cup last year for the first time since 1982.
42. Javier Hernández & Keylor Navas - Real Madrid
While Navas is an established player at Real Madrid, it’s easy to forget that Chicharito spent one season on loan at Los Blancos. However, in that one season he got close with the Costa Rican goalkeeper, and despite the Mexican striker now at West Ham they remain good friends.
43. Neymar & Paulo Henrique Ganso – Santos
Back before Neymar was a big star in Europe, he had a special relationship with Ganso at his boyhood club Santos. The pair spent seven years together at the club going through the youth academy right up to the first team, before Ganso made the switch to São Paulo in 2012.
44. Cristiano Ronaldo & Fábio Coentrão – Portugal, Real Madrid
While Coentrão’s seven-year Real Madrid career was slightly underwhelming, he had a great relationship with Ronaldo. Both Portuguese internationals, the two began a strong friendship and continue to represent their country together, ten years after the defender made his debut.
45. Laurent Blanc & Fabien Barthez – France, Manchester United
The French pair not only had a good friendship, but also an iconic one looking back on the 1998 World Cup. Blanc is renowned for always kissing Barthez’s cleanly shaved head before each match for good luck, and it seemed to have turned out well as Les Bleus won their first ever World Cup on home soil.
46. Andrés Iniesta & Víctor Valdés – Spain, Barcelona
Iniesta and Valdés are yet another pair of Barca legends who found their way at La Masia, spending four years together in the academy. Iniesta considers the goalkeeper a good friend, with both eventually spending the majority of their fruitful, successful careers at the Camp Nou.
47. Íñigo Martínez & Asier Illarramendi – Spain, Real Sociedad
Martinez and Illarramendi became friends at Real Sociedad’s academy, both earning their places in the first team in no time. Martinez called an end to his 12 years at the club last year by moving to fellow Basque side Athletic Bilbao, while Illarramendi returned to San Sebastián after two years at Real Madrid.
48. Diego Simeone & Mono Burgos – Argentina, Atlético Madrid
Simeone’s partnership with Burgos began while playing for Argentina, and ended up with them both in management at Atlético Madrid. Upon Simeone’s arrival as Atlético manager in 2011, he was quick to appoint Burgos as his assistant manager, where they have been working together ever since.
49. Juan Román Riquelme & Carlos Bianchi - Boca Juniors
Another iconic duo from the blue side of Buenos Aires, Riquelme was Bianchi’s prodigy when he was manager at Boca Juniors. Bianchi helped develop the youngster into one of football’s biggest young stars, as Riquelme earned a dream move to Barcelona in 2002.
50. Guti & Raúl – Spain, Real Madrid
Guti and Raúl had a unique relationship at the Santiago Bernabeu, as they both came up from the youth team and joined the first team in 1994 and 1995 respectively. They spent 18 years together with Los Blancos going through the ranks, as they helped the Spanish side to a fantastic spell of success.