Lucas Neill’s son Marcus has followed his famous father’s footsteps onto the football stage - as a free-scoring rookie striker at Liverpool.
The 96-cap former Socceroos captain travelled to France last weekend to watch Marcus - who six months ago joined the Anfield giants’ junior set-up - win player of the tournament and the golden boot at the prestigious Mini Mondial under-11’s competition in Nantes.
Neill junior showed while dad specialised in stopping goals as a Premier League defender with Blackburn and West Ham, he knows a thing or two about scoring them as Liverpool battled it out with the likes of Inter Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, FC Porto, Juventus, Roma, Anderlecht and Sporting Lisbon at an event featuring clubs from three continents.
Neill senior has shunned any hint of publicity and turned away from Australia’s football fraternity and former Socceroos teammates since being abruptly cut from Australia’s FIFA World Cup calculations by then coach Ange Postecoglou back in 2014.
But his effervescent offspring is looking to keep the family name up in lights.
Neill’s long-time friend, former Socceroo Mark Robertson - whose 16-year-old son Alex is set to sign a professional contract with Manchester City - is a mentor to Marcus and believes he possesses the budding attributes of a future pro.
“The pedigree is there ... he’s got real talent,” said Robertson, who carved out a nine year professional career in England and Scotland.
“He’s probably one of the most natural left and right footed kids I’ve seen,” added the Manchester-based scout.
“It’s actually frightening. He plays as a number nine, and is very nimble and intelligent with the ball.
“He’s a Robbie Fowler type, though probably better with his right foot than Robbie!
“It’s working out really well for him at the moment, and he’s up for contract renewal at the end of the season.
“Marcus is loving it there and can’t wait to get to training.
“He’s inherited the athleticism of both his parents and it’s now all about attitude and coach-ability. He’s a talent, definitely.”
Robertson junior, who boasts England great Michael Owen as his agent and possesses prodigious potential, has known Marcus all his life and also offers advice to the kid six years his junior.
In another example of his promise Marcus scored four and provided two assists as Liverpool thrashed Blackburn last week, the club where he first started out.
Letting him go after two years on their books is shaping as a major miscalculation, especially with Manchester United and Everton courting Marcus before he opted for Liverpool.
Dad Lucas almost joined the Reds himself before ultimately signing for West Ham back in 2007.
He subsequently was involved in an infamous tackle which broke the leg of Liverpool favourite Jamie Carragher.
Marcus, though, may go on to right some of those perceived wrongs.
“Lucas is very happy with the way things are progressing there, though he was a bit concerned at first about the Jamie Carragher thing (and how that might effect his reception at the club),” revealed Robertson.
“I’m playing a role helping to mentor and develop him, a bit like I’ve done with Alex.
“And he talks to Alex a lot ... they’ve been brought up together and are like cousins.
“I spoke to Lucas (who is also based in Lancashire) the other day and he’s really proud of Marcus.
“He said he has gone above and beyond where Lucas thought he would have, and all in a very short space of time.
“I know Liverpool are very pleased with his progress in what is a very good under-11 squad.”