In our regular Sunday feature, we bring you the names of some of the best-known figures on Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
Ricardo Gomes (45) was a member of the Brazil squad for the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ in Italy, although the South Americans performed well below their normal high standards at the tournament. Gomez called time on his playing career in 1996 while at Paris Saint-Germain. He later coached PSG, Girondins Bordeaux and Monaco, before moving back home in June this year to take the reins at Sao Paulo.
France international Jean-Alain Boumsong (30) has been a regular for his country since 2003. The towering Olympique Lyon defender appeared at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and looks highly likely to be pulling on a blue jersey in South Africa next summer, too.
Tottenham Hotspur talent Roman Pavlyuchenko (28) is one of the best strikers to emerge from Russia in many long years. The potent goal-getter spent five years with Spartak Moscow before switching to the Premier League in August 2008. He and his Russia team-mates missed out on a berth at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, finishing behind Germany in their group and falling to Slovenia in the play-offs.
Slovakia centre-forward Stanislav Sestak (27) made a significant contribution to his country’s successful tilt at qualifying for next summer’s FIFA World Cup finals. The Bochum striker and his national team-mates will cross swords with Italy, New Zealand and Paraguay in Group F.
Last summer, Karim Benzema (22) pledged his immediate future to Spanish giants Real Madrid. The France international previously hit the goal trail for former serial French champions Olympique Lyon, and would seem to have a very bright future in front of him. Despite his young age, Benzema has been a member of Raymond Domenech’s France squad for some time now.
Three-time FIFA World Cup participant Gianluca Pagliuca (43) hung up his boots – or more importantly, his gloves – in 2007. The goalkeeper spent his final Serie A season with Ascoli, although his most glorious spell came with Inter between 1994 and 1999. He was named Italian Player of the Year in 1997.
Another young striker, Ryan Babel (23), made his full international debut for the Netherlands fully four years ago. The Liverpool forward was part of the Dutch squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and looks odds-on to feature again when coach Bert van Marwijk names his party for next summer’s global showdown.