In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
Francisco Gento (79) is a living legend of Spanish football, having taken part in La Roja’s FIFA World Cup™ campaigns of 1962 and 1966, and triumphed at the 1964 UEFA European Championship. Gento made his name at Racing Santander before signing for Real Madrid, where he cemented his iconic status. He earned 12 Spanish league titles, two Spanish Cups, six European Cups (including five successive victories), one Intercontinental Cup and two Latin Cups with Los Blancos. After hanging up his boots, he moved into coaching, taking the reins at Castilla (Real Madrid’s reserve team), Castellon, Palencia and Granada.
Michel Salgado (37) was, for around a decade, one of La Liga’s most effective right-sided defenders. On the international stage, he appeared at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany with Spain, having previously participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1995, where his nation finished fourth, and emerged victorious at the 1998 UEFA European U-21 Championship. Salgado’s career began at Celta Vigo, and following a stint at Salamanca and a subsequent second spell with the Galician club, he moved to Real Madrid. He enjoyed great success in the Spanish capital, winning four league championships, three Spanish Super Cups, two UEFA Champions League titles, one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. After a three-season adventure with Blackburn Rovers in England, the veteran right-back retired earlier this year.
Archie Thompson (34) is still hopeful of competing in the FIFA World Cup with Australia, after having missed out on being selected for the last two tournaments. To that end, he is currently doing his best to help his nation qualify for Brazil 2014, scoring the winning goal in the Socceroos’ recent crucial success over Iraq. The prolific striker has had a taste of major international competitions in the past, turning out at two FIFA Confederations Cups, the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament, the 2007 AFC Nations Cup (Australia’s debut in the event), and was part of the team that lifted the OFC Nations Cup in 2004. Thompson started out playing in his homeland, before trying his hand at European football with Belgian outfit Lierse. His impressive goalscoring record in Flanders led to an offer from current club Melbourne Victory, where he experienced further glory over an eight-year period, which was only interrupted by a brief loan spell at PSV Eindhoven. The international front man has thus far picked up two Australian league winners’ medals in Melbourne, and finished domestic top scorer in 2006.
Vincent Candela (39) can look back with great pride on his international exploits with France. The strong-running full-back was a member of the squad that hoisted the 1998 FIFA World Cup and triumphed at UEFA EURO 2000. Previously, he took part in the Olympic Games at Atlanta 1996. He began his professional career at Toulouse, before joining Guingamp and then Italian giants Roma, with whom he won the Serie A title and an Italian Super Cup. After half a season at Bolton Wanderers, he returned to Italy to represent Udinese, Siena and Messina.
Birgit Prinz (35) won practically all there is to win in the women’s game, during a remarkable career that ended with her retirement earlier this year. The free-scoring forward propelled Germany to two FIFA Women’s World Cup™ victories, as well as to two second-placed finishes. In addition, she ended up on the winning side five times in the UEFA European Women’s Championship final, and secured bronze medals at three successive Olympic Women’s Football Tournaments. Prinz’s first professional experience came at the now-defunct FSV Frankfurt, where she won two Bundesliga championships and two German Cups. She then moved across the city to join 1.FFC Frankfurt, with whom she obtained a further six league winners’ medals, held aloft eight German Cups and secured three UEFA Women’s Champions League titles. On an individual level, the German football legend was named FIFA World Player of the Year three years in a row, and finished runner-up on four occasions. Prinz won the German Player of the Year award no fewer than eight times, and was top scorer in the German league four times. She also earned the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe awards at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Adriano (28) was pinpointed as a quality player early in his career, playing a key role in Brazil’s victory at the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup and stepping up to the senior squad to hold aloft the Copa America the following year. His solid performances led to a move from first club Coritiba to Spanish powerhouses Sevilla. The two-footed Brazilian attained several honours during his time in Andalusia, including two Spanish Cups, one Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Cups and one UEFA Super Cup. Interest from Barcelona led to a transfer to Camp Nou, where he added a league title, a Spanish Cup, two Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Champions League title, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup to his impressive footballing CV.
Stephan El Shaarawy (20) took his first steps towards stardom when he joined AC Milan in 2011. After kicking off his career with Genoa, El Shaarawy spent a season on loan to Padova, where his performances earned him a move to the San Siro to polish his skills. Il Faraone (The Pharaoh) helped Italy to qualify and play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 and made his full international debut against England in August this year. El Shaarawy will now be looking to establish himself in the Italy team and hopefully take part in Brazil 2014.