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Jérôme v Kevin-Prince

‘Full power’ in battle of the brothers Boateng

Only a couple of steps away from a nondescript football ground in Berlin, the Panke flows quietly by. The barely noticeable river in the suburb of Wedding flows into the Spree, Havel and the Elbe, and finally ends up in the North Sea. This is where the careers of the Boateng brothers started. As kids they played here together, until both ultimately joined the professional ranks and their careers took off. Kevin-Prince's took him to Hertha BSC, Tottenham, Dortmund, Portsmouth and AC Milan, and has now led him to Schalke 04. Jérôme started at TeBe Berlin, and then played for Hertha, Hamburg and Manchester City before ending up at Bayern. On Saturday they will be on the same pitch for the first time in 1,186 days – and they are up against each other.

“Most of the time we played on the same side,” the 18-month-younger Jérôme remembers. From time to time there would be a battle of brothers - or to be precise half brothers, as they have the same father - and when it happened, a healthy rivalry developed: “I wanted to show that even though I’m younger, I can compete with him on the football pitch,” the FCB man explained.

This rivalry will also be present on Saturday in Gelsenkirchen. “There will probably be a couple of tackles against each other, and we’ll both give 100 percent,” the FCB pro emphasised. “We both want to show we’re the better player.” Similar vibes are being sent out by Kevin-Prince: “I've already told him I'd be disappointed if he didn’t come at me with full power. I’ll certainly be doing so to him. On Saturday we’re opponents and for 90 minutes, the friendship between brothers ends.” 

Family meet-up in the stands

“He said 90 minutes, so I hope I can say hello before the match,” Jérôme retorted, looking forward to the battle. It is likely that there will be a couple of challenges between the two. Kevin-Prince, who joined Schalke from Milan at the end of August, is the playmaker for the Ruhr Valley team, while Jérôme is a centre-back for the Bavarians. “You have to play aggressively and close him down,” the defender cautions. “He never gives up.”

Many Boateng family members will be watching the game live in the stadium. There have only been two previous matches in which the brothers went head-to-head: For twelve minutes in the Bundesliga, with Jérôme for Hamburg and Kevin-Prince for Dortmund in April 2009, and once over the full 90 minutes at the 2010 World Cup, in a group stage meeting between Germany and Ghana. Jérôme won the latter. “I’m ahead In competitive matches,” the 25 year-old noted a couple of days ago in an interview.

After more than three years, the two now finally meet again on the sacred turf. The verbals between the two, who are in contact “nearly every day” according to Jérôme, have increased in intensity recently. Kevin-Prince quipped that his brother lacks attacking quality – but Jérôme fired back that his brother’s “left foot is a bit weak.” The kind of banter presumably last heard on the football pitch next to the gently flowing river Panke.