In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents some of the biggest names from planet football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
24. Raymond Kalla (36) is considered one of the finest defenders in the history of Cameroonian football, having represented the Indomitable Lions in an array of prestigious tournaments. He defended his country’s colours four times at the CAF African Cup of Nations, winning the competition twice, and took part in three FIFA World Cups™ as well as helping Cameroon reach the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001. At club level, Kalla plied his trade in numerous different leagues, notably enjoying spells in Greece, Turkey and Germany. Despite his duties at the back, he notched six goals in 77 Bundesliga outings, before finally ending his career with Union Sportive de Douala back on home soil.
25. Johan Cruyff (64) has had a tremendous impact on the world of football over the last four decades. In 1974, he was at the heart of the Netherlands side which came so close to clinching the global title, winning the fastest penalty ever awarded in a FIFA World Cup Final. His absence four years later then dented Dutch chances as the Oranje fell short at the last hurdle again. The Flying Dutchman began turning heads as soon as he first emerged on the scene with Ajax, and he helped the Amsterdam outfit win three consecutive European Cup titles. From there, he began a long and successful love affair with Barcelona, ending a 14-year drought for the Catalan giants as they won the Spanish title in 1973/74. As a coach at the Camp Nou, he brought Total Football to the Blaugrana and steered the club to four consecutive La Liga crowns, while also winning the Copa del Rey once and leading Barça to their first ever UEFA Champions League triumph at Wembley Stadium in 1992. In addition, Cruyff was one of the first big-name talents to showcase his abilities in the USA, seeing out his playing days at Feyenoord upon his return before honing his coaching skills back at the club where it had all begun for him.
26. Kiko (39) was a member of the gifted generation of players who rekindled the glory years at Atletico Madrid at the end of the last century. Los Colchoneros had not tasted La Liga success for more than 20 years when Kiko and Co broke Real Madrid and Barcelona’s stranglehold on the Spanish game by securing a league and cup double in 1995/96. The striker also represented Spain at UEFA EURO 1996 and France 1998, notching a goal against Bulgaria in the latter tournament.
27. Walter Pandiani (35) has plundered an impressive haul of goals in the Spanish championship, where he has spent the majority of his career. After starting out with Penarol in his native Uruguay, the striker represented Deportivo La Coruna for six seasons, then joining Mallorca and going on to win the Copa del Rey. Pandiani had a brief stint with Birmingham City in England but was soon back in Spain again after signing up for the Espanyol cause. It proved a shrewd move as a few months later he was able to celebrate a second Copa del Rey triumph. He also reached a UEFA Cup final with the Barcelona outfit in 2007, ending top marksman in the competition that season. Osasuna snapped up his services that summer and Pandiani continues to impress for the side, his success in the club game contrasting with his fortunes on the international stage. He boasts just two caps for Uruguay, his limited opportunities coming in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
28. Diego Simeone (41) won a variety of honours during his long career. With Argentina, he lifted the Copa America twice and appeared in three FIFA World Cups, memorably tangling with David Beckham before the England winger’s dismissal at France 1998. Simeone also tasted success in the very first edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia in 1992, and his experiences in the club sphere proved similarly rewarding. He won a league and cup double with Atletico Madrid, another double with Lazio and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, before heading back to Argentina and taking up the coaching reins at Racing Club. The erstwhile holding midfielder next led Estudiantes to victory in the Torneo Apertura, with spells in charge of River Plate and San Lorenzo preceding a return to Italy to oversee Catania.
29. Lee Dong Gook (32) has established himself as one of the finest Korea Republic-born scorers of the last two decades. Scorer of a tournament-leading six goals at the 2000 edition of the AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon, Lee appeared at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ and was also involved when the Taeguk Warriors reached the Round of 16 at South Africa 2010. In addition to catching the eye at international level, where he also featured at two further Asian Cups and two CONCACAF Gold Cups (which Korea Republic were invited to attend), Lee had two spells in European football - the first of which was a brief loan move to Bundesliga side Werder Bremen in 2001. He would later return to the Old Continent with English outfit Middlesbrough in January 2007, only to head back home just 18 months later. Having previously turned out for South Korean heavyweights Pohang Steelers and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, he currently plies his trade with another domestic powerhouse: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
30. Gerardo Torrado (32) is a gifted defensive midfielder whose abilities have earned him a starting place for Mexico at three FIFA World Cup tournaments and four Copa Americas. Added to that, he boasts two CONCACAF Gold Cup winners’ medals from his three participations, and was part of the Mexico squad which lifted the FIFA Confederations Cup at the Estadio Azteca in 1999. At club level, Torrado has turned out for Tenerife, Sevilla and Racing Santander, and now plays his football for Mexican side Cruz Azul.