Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Careca are just two of the famous footballing names celebrating birthdays in the week ahead, as FIFA.com reveals in its customary Sunday feature.
2. Luis Fernandez (52) had been a France player for only two years when he helped Les Bleus win their first continental title at the 1984 UEFA European Championship. Fernandez was also an integral part of the side at the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™, where he scored the winning penalty in a dramatic quarter-final shoot-out defeat of Brazil, a goal he celebrated with a memorable jig of delight. The French would end the tournament in third place after going out to West Germany in the semi-finals, however. The midfielder retired from the game a year after making the France squad for UEFA EURO 1992. He had begun his long and distinguished career with Paris Saint-Germain, where he won two consecutive French Cups and the 1986 league title. Leaving PSG that year, he enjoyed a spell with Racing Club Paris before ending his playing days at Cannes. The charismatic Fernandez began his coaching career with the Provence club, returning to Paris Saint-Germain in 1994 and steering them to a French and League Cup double the following season. The French Super Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup came his way the season after that, at which point he moved to Spain, the country of his birth, to take up the reins at Athletic Bilbao. After coming close to La Liga success, he returned to PSG before taking the helm at Espanyol and then Al Rayyan of Qatar, Beitar Jerusalem, Real Betis and Reims. He is now in charge of Israel’s national team.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (30) is one of the most prolific strikers of recent years, and began his career with Malmo in his native Sweden. His natural talent soon attracted the interest of Ajax, where he enjoyed extensive success, winning two Eredivisie titles and a Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup. His next port of call was Juventus, where two Serie A winners’ medals followed. The relegation suffered by La Vecchia Signora in 2006 triggered a move to Inter Milan, his attacking gifts firing I Nerazzurri to three league crowns and two Italian Super Cup successes and securing him two Italian Footballer of the Year awards and one capocannoniere title as the top scorer in Serie A. Barcelona then came calling, and despite struggling to adapt to their fluid style, the Swede played his part in a league title triumph and two Spanish Super Cup wins, not to mention UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs. Returning to Italy, he linked up with current club AC Milan to lift another Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup at the start of this season, though the UEFA Champions League is the one club trophy to still elude him. Voted Swedish Footballer of the Year on no fewer than five occasions, an accolade that has been his for the last four years, Ibra has also represented his country at two FIFA World Cup finals (Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006) and two UEFA EURO finals.
4. Mauro Camoranesi (35) was a member of the Italy side that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, appearing in five of La Squadra Azzurra’s seven games at the finals. Featuring also at two UEFA EURO tournaments (Portugal 2004 and Austria/Switzerland 2008) and the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, he brought an end to his international career after Italy’s first-round exit at South Africa 2010. Born in Argentina, Camoranesi supported River Plate as a boy but made his professional debut in Mexico with Santos Laguna, winning a league championship with them. He played for Montevideo Wanderers, Banfield and Cruz Azul before crossing the Atlantic to join Verona. It was with Juventus that he made his name, however, winning three Scudetti and two Italian Super Cups with the Turin giants, though he also finished on the losing side in a Champions League final against AC Milan. The midfielder stayed loyal to the club after their demotion to Serie B, helping them back to the top flight before packing his bags for Stuttgart and then making a return to Argentina, where he is currently running out for Lanus.
5. Careca (51) lit up the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico with his imperious finishing, scoring five goals in as many games, and samba-style celebrations. However, the ultimate prize evaded the formidable striker on that occasion and at Italy 1990, and it was at club level that he enjoyed his finest hours. Starting out in the Brazilian second division with Guarani, he moved to Sao Paolo, winning the state cup with them, and then on to Napoli, where he formed a lethal partnership with Diego Maradona. Together they would inspire the southerners to success in the UEFA Cup and Italian Super Cup and to the Serie A title in 1990. After a stint with Kashiwa Reysol in Japan, he would wind his career up in Brazil.
6. Jurgen Kohler (46) is one of the greatest defenders Germany has ever produced. The centre-half was on the winning side at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy and again at UEFA EURO 1996, and also featured at USA 1994 and France 1998, and at the European finals in 1988 and 1992. He tasted similar success at domestic level, winning the league, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup with Juventus, and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. Nevertheless, he is perhaps best remembered for his feats with Borussia Dortmund, where he contributed to two league titles and a memorable UEFA Champions League victory over Juve in 1997, the year in which he also won the Intercontinental Cup and collected a UEFA Super Cup loser’s medal. Since retiring from the game, the central defender has taken up coaching.
7. Madjid Bougherra (29) won a place in the hearts of all Algerians when he formed part of the Fennec side that qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the country’s first appearance at the world finals since Mexico 1986. The centre-half has played in some of Europe’s biggest leagues, beginning his career with Gueugnon in France before crossing the English Channel to join Sheffield Wednesday and then Charlton Athletic. Moving north of the border, he won three Scottish championships, a Scottish Cup and League Cup with Glasgow Rangers. He recently joined reigning Qatari champions Lekhwiya.
8. Zvonimir Boban (43) was an outstanding performer for his country, contributing to Croatia’s run to third place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, the Balkan nation’s first appearance at the world finals. He was no less successful on the domestic stage, shining in a superb AC Milan side that secured four league titles, three Italian Super Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, and which also defeated Barcelona in an unforgettable Champions League final in 1994.