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.
Mathieu Flamini (26) first signed professional forms with French Ligue 1 outfit Olympique Marseille. The midfielder then appeared for Arsenal from 2004 to 2008 before switching to Serie A in Italy with AC Milan. Despite his distinguished club career, the gifted schemer has yet to earn a full international cap. Nevertheless, Flamini has almost certainly not given up hope of pulling on a France jersey in South Africa this summer.
Julio Cesar (47) is a former world-class defender from Brazil who spent his club career with the likes of Juventus, Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund, winning the 1997 UEFA Champions League with the latter. He represented his country at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico.
Paul Caligiuri (46) was named USA Player of the Year in 1986. He competed at two FIFA World Cup finals, the 1990 edition in Italy and the 1994 finals on home soil. Caligiuri spent a large part of his club career in Germany, before returning to the USA in 1996 and finally hanging up his boots in 2001 while a Los Angeles Galaxy player.
Samuel Eto'o (29) undoubtedly rates as one of the best footballers ever to emerge from the African continent. The Inter Milan goal-getter previously spent five glorious years with Barcelona, becoming one of the pillars of a truly great side. This summer, Eto'o will contest his third FIFA World Cup finals, after representing the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at France 1998 and Japan/Korea 2002.
Didier Drogba (32) runs Eto'o close for the title of best player from the FIFA World Cup host continent. The Côte d’Ivoire superstar has been at Chelsea for some six years now, and consistently rates among the most potent strikers operating in Europe. He spearheaded the Ivorians’ challenge at their maiden FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 and will again lead the line when the Elephants go for glory this coming summer.
Patrick Battiston (53) played for France at three FIFA World Cup finals, namely Argentina 1978, Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986. The defender spent his formative years with Metz, before spells with St. Etienne, Bordeaux and AS Monaco. He returned to Girondins and brought down the curtain on his playing career there in 1991.
Bruno Conti (55) was one of the most diminuitive stars of world football at just 1.69m tall and 65kg. But if you’re good enough, you’re big enough, as they say, and the Italian appeared at two FIFA World Cup finals. He lifted the famous Trophy at the 1982 tournament in Spain, but the Squadra Azzurra fell to Round of 16 opponents France four years later.