In our regular feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names from Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
15 El Hadji Diouf (31) burst onto the scene at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002™ playing for Senegal who defied all expectations by coming through a tough group which included France, Denmark and Uruguay. The Lions of Teranga then beat Sweden in extra-time in the Round of 16 before bowing out to Turkey. Diouf also appeared in four CAF African Cup of Nations before retiring from the international game in 2009. After kicking off his club career at Sochaux, the controversial front man joined Rennes and then Lens, before his fantastic performances at Korea/Japan 2002 earned him a big-money move across the Channel to Liverpool with whom he won the League Cup. After spells at Bolton, Sunderland and Blackburn, Diouf won the Scottish league title and League Cup with Rangers in a short stint with the Glaswegian club. Back in England at Championship side Doncaster Rovers, Diouf is hoping to lead “Donny” out of the drop zone. On a personal note, Diouf was named the BBC African Footballer Of The Year in 2002.
16 Seydou Keita (32) first rose to fame winning the adidas Golden Ball at the FIFA Youth Championships Nigeria 1999, where his superb displays helped Mali to a third place finish. Starting off at Marseille, a move to Lorient saw him clinch the French Cup. The energetic midfielder then moved to Seville, with whom he won a Spanish Super Cup. In 2008, the Malian moved to Barcelona where he has spent the finest years of his career. With the Blaugrana, Keita has already earned three league titles, one Copa Del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups. He will soon participate in his fifth CAF African Cup of Nations.
17 Cuauhtemoc Blanco (39) has enjoyed a fantastic career, appearing at three FIFA World Cups (France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and South Africa 2010) with Mexico and scoring once in each. A key member of the El Tricolor side that won the FIFA Confederations Cup on home soil in 1999, where he received the adidas Silver Shoe and Silver Ball awards, Blanco was also part of Mexico teams that won consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cups, and participated in three Copa Americas. A striker who has evolved into an attacking midfielder, Blanco spent the bulk of his career in North America with a brief stint in Spain. Starting off at CF America, where he won a CONCACAF Champions League, the league title and a Mexican Super Cup, Blanco had loan spells at Necaxa, Real Valladolid and Veracruz, before moving to Chicago Fire. After two years in the U.S. and a loan spell with Santos Laguna, he moved back to his native Mexico with Irapuato, whom he helped promote to the Mexican First Divison, before a move to Dorados de Sinaloa in early 2012.
18 Marcelo Gallardo (36) is one of the most talented players to have come out of Argentina in recent years. Part of the Albiceleste side that lost to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of France 1998, he was also a squad member at Korea/Japan 2002. Gallardo featured in the FIFA Confederations Cup 1995 and the Copa America in 1997. During his teens, the midfielder led his team to a third place finish at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Italy 1991 and a silver medal at the Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta 1996. Nicknamed El Muñeco (the doll), Gallardo first came to prominence at River Plate with whom he won four Aperturas and one Clausura title, one Copa Libertadores and one Supercopa Sudamericana. A transfer to Monaco in 1999 led to more success in the form of a French league title, a Coupe de la Ligue and a Trophee des Champions. After a spell with Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he won another Coupe de la Ligue, he moved to DC United where he lifted the U.S. Open Cup before signing for Nacional and winning the Uruguayan championship. Gallardo retired in June 2011 and was promptly hired four days later as the club’s manager.
19 Predrag Mijatovic (43) was part of the successful Yugoslavia side which reached the FIFA World Cup France 1998™ after an eight-year absence, and was only knocked out by a strong Dutch side in the Round of 16. A star of the Yugoslavia team also defeated by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2000, the striker first made a name for himself at the FIFA World Youth Championship Chile 1987, which Yugoslavia surprisingly won. His club career began at Partizan Belgrade, where he claimed the league and Yugoslav Cup before moving to Spain with Valencia. A series of excellent performances and Los Che’s second-place league finish in 1996 propelled the forward to a high-profile transfer to Real Madrid. With the Merengues, Mijatovic secured the league title and the 1998 UEFA Champions League thanks to his winning goal in the final. A move to Fiorentina brought him more silverware in the form of the Coppa Italia before he retired after a three-year spell with Levante.
20 Karim Haggui (28) was part of the Tunisian team which won its first CAF African Cup of Nations in 2004. A key player for Les Aigles de Carthage (the Carthage Eagles), Haggui has featured in three more CAF African Cup of Nations, and will probably appear in the edition that kicks off on 21 January in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Haggui also represented his country at the Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004. His club career began at Etoile Sportive de Sahel, before he crossed the Mediterranean to Strasbourg and then Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. The defender still plays in the Bundesliga, but for the red and black of Hanover 96.
21 Alen Boksic (42) had to wait until his 33rd year for his chance to play at a FIFA World Cup. Part of the Yugoslavian squad for Italy 1990, he did not get any time on the pitch, but his dream came true when he appeared for Croatia at Korea/Japan 2002. Boksic was the traditional poacher, and after winning the Yugloslav Cup and League Cup with Hajduk Split and a brief stint with Cannes, he became a hero at Marseille, scoring 23 league goals in the 1992/93 season as L’OM completed a league and UEFA Champions League double. He then went to Lazio, where the striker won a league title, two Coppas Italia, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. He also had a brief spell at Juventus, during which he won the Scudetto, a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup, before finishing his career at Middlesborough. Boksic was named best Croatian player in 1993 and finished top-scorer of Ligue 1 when playing for Marseille.