Although it’s not quite Jordi and Johan Cruyff, Dundee United midfielder Ian Harkes seems accustomed to a career in the shadows of dad John.
Harkes Sr turned out for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and West Ham United in a 15-year career that yielded 90 caps for the United States.
At Wednesday, he would have his best spell, winning the 1991 League Cup as the second-tier Owls beat Manchester United 1-0 in the final.
In 1993, Harkes Snr would be a part of the team that would lose both the League and FA Cup Finals to Arsenal, becoming the second-ever American to score at Wembley in the former.
Despite being born in Derby while his father played for the Rams, Harkes Jnr is as proud an American as his old man and hopes cup success of his own with United can propel him into the national team reckoning.
The Tangerines head for Hampden next Saturday to face Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi-finals and Harkes revealed the magnitude of the occasion is not lost of him after a lifetime listening to his dad recount past glories.
‘It would be incredible if we could reach a final with Dundee United’
Of his father’s goal against Arsenal, the 26-year-old joked: “He only shows it to me every week!
“I have watched that game and it is good to hear the old stories from him, playing on the biggest stage.
“It would be incredible if we could reach a final with Dundee United. It’s exciting.
“He always spoke about what it meant to the club and to the people of the city.
“Everyone still remembers Sheffield Wednesday getting to those cup finals even now.
“Speaking about and going through those memories is always special.
“Those special moments still shine through and we are looking forward to try and make some of our own.”
Hampden the biggest stage to date for Harkes
From his MLS career with DC United, Harkes has played in some big arenas.
However, despite the sad absence of any fans, he admits our national stadium will be the biggest he’s played on as he aims to help the Terrors reach a showpiece final against St Johnstone or St Mirren.
“It would have to be against Atlanta United (Mercedes Benz Stadium),” Harkes said of the biggest stage he’s played on to date.
“There were close to 65,000 which was incredible.
“It was a big stage there as well but maybe not the same kind of calibre of the game.
“This will be a different experience even without the fans.
“I played for DC United in the Open Cup with the rest of the teams.
“We got to the third round so I’ve not played much cup football.
“It will be a shame there won’t be any fans in because I’ve seen games in the past where it’s been played there and Dundee United have brought such a strong attendance.
“We wish the fans could be there but it’ll definitely be a big stage and I’ll enjoy it for sure.”
US cap still the goal for Tangerines midfielder
As for his international ambitions, Harkes hopes continuing to shine in tangerine in the big games can earn him his first cap for the USA.
The box-to-box midfielder was called into the squad for a friendly with Bosnia and Herzegovina in January 2018 but didn’t take to the pitch.
Harkes looks to team-mate Lawrence Shankland, who has earned four Scotland caps while at Tannadice, as inspiration for his own aspirations.
“That is always at the back of my mind and it has always been a goal of mine,” Harkes added on a potential cap call.
“Maybe these big games will give us a little bit more exposure.
“Shanks has got himself into the national team playing here so it is possible.”
Take care of County first
For all it’s difficult to not look ahead to next weekend’s huge last-four clash with Hibs, United do have league business to take care of before then.
Second-bottom Ross County check in at Tannadice today, with the threat of Premiership relegation very real for John Hughes’ men.
Eight-placed United have a 100% winning record against the Staggies this season and Harkes believes it’s important they try to keep that in tact with Hampden on the horizon.
“It is all about momentum right now and we seem to be clicking,” he commented.
“We want to keep that going for Ross County but it’s tough not to look ahead to the semi-finals.
“But, first we have to try to take care of Ross County this weekend.
“We have a good record against them this season and that will be at the back of our minds.
“They have always been fighting for everything this season and given their position in the table they will be fighting to get those three points and take the game to us.
“We will have to be ready. We won’t take them lightly.
“We have got a very strong squad and we are driving each other on. That’s important at this time of year when the games are all stacking up.
“It’s been a long season and we need everyone pushing each other along.”