Cody Gakpo’s Parents Supported His Career Long Before the World Cup — Who Are They?

Elizabeth Randolph - Author
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Nov. 30 2022, Published 6:17 p.m. ET

Whether you call it “soccer,” “football,” or even “fútbol,” the contact sport’s global impact has made several young athletes household names. Fans of the sport watched Cody Gakpo defeat multiple teams while representing the Netherlands. At just 23, Cody has proved he’s not playing around, as he’s been the one to watch at the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

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Since entering the World Cup in November, Cody has scored three goals during the first three nights and doesn’t plan to slow down until he wins the competitive championship. Before the World Cup, Cody had an impressive résumé as a winger for Eredivisie club PSV and the Netherlands national team. He’s also earned several awards, including Dutch Footballer of the Year for the 2021-2022 season, after being responsible for most of his team’s goals.

Although he’s a bona fide soccer superstar, Cody seems to stay grounded. He likely has his two parents and siblings to thank for his humble nature. Here’s what we learned about Cody Gakpo’s parents and how they support him from the sidelines.

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Cody Gakpo’s parents raised their son in the Netherlands but have different ethnicities.

Cody was born on May 7, 1999, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. He was born to parents Johnny and Ank Gakpo, who raised him and his two brothers in the district of Stratum, just 2.3 km away from Eindhoven.

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According to ESPN, Cody isn’t the only athlete in his family. Ank played rugby for the Netherlands in her younger years, which is likely how Cody found his competitive drive. While neither Ank nor Johnny is a professional athlete today, they prioritize their son’s bustling sports career and have been right next to him during his crucial career highlights.

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In December 2020, Cody posted photos of him alongside his parents on Instagram. Johnny and Ank posed next to their son as he celebrated signing a five-year contract with PSV. Their unwavering support is something Cody’s former coach Twan Scheepers said allows the athlete to stay on the right track on and off the field.

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"His parents are very solid, don't do stupid things — the parents, family, friends, and Cody and his brothers, they did a great job in not pushing him too much," Scheepers explained to ESPN in November 2022. "They wanted to show that life is good. They are a religious family. I think that's important and a big thing in the world, he's quite relaxed. The only thing that matters to him is playing the game, and nothing bothers him around it."

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What is Cody Gakpo’s ethnicity?

Growing up, Cody was able to navigate multiple cultures due to his ethnicity. Reportedly his father is originally from Togo, a country in West Africa, and has Ghanaian ancestry, while Ank is Dutch.

While Cody doesn’t shy away from his ethnicity, he’s proud to represent the Netherlands through sports. In his home country, he’s received support from many fans and comparisons to another famous Netherlands-born athlete, Robin van Persie.

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When asked about the comparisons, Cody embraced the honor and said he’s only focused on improving his skills in the coming years.

“He’s a legendary player in the Netherlands and in the whole world,” Cody said of Robin while speaking to FIFA+. “It’s an honour for me to be compared to him, but at the end of the day, I’m my own player. I have to prove myself and do my best.”

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