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.
11. Philipp Lahm (29) had the honour of wearing the captain’s armband for Germany at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and at UEFA EURO 2012. A first-choice for his country to this day, he helped Die Nationalelf to finish third at the last two FIFA World Cups and second at EURO 2008, his third participation in the continental tournament. But it is with Bayern Munich that the versatile defender has enjoyed the greatest success, coming through the ranks to become a stalwart of the Bavarian team’s back line. After a two-year loan spell at Stuttgart, Lahm has thus far won four Bundesliga titles, four German Cups, two German Super Cups and one German League Cup in Munich, but his experiences in the UEFA Champions League have been less gratifying, as he has ended on the losing side in two recent finals.
12. Dario Simic (37) wrote his name into the history of Croatian football by propelling his country to the FIFA World Cup for the very first time, at France 1998, where they claimed an impressive third place. He subsequently skippered the Balkan nation at Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. The adaptable defender also took part in Croatia’s maiden UEFA European Championship adventure in 1996, as well as in the 2004 and 2008 editions. Simic started out at Dinamo Zagreb, where he secured five league titles, four Croatian Cups and a Croatian Super Cup, before exporting his talents to Inter Milan. Three seasons down the line, he signed for city rivals AC Milan, with whom he earned winners’ medals in Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa Italiana, the UEFA Champions League (twice), the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. After enjoying a stint in Monaco, he brought his career full circle by returning to Dinamo Zagreb.
13. Jose Manuel de la Torre (47) carries the hopes of an expectant Mexican nation on his shoulders, following his appointment as national coach in the aftermath of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. His efforts have already borne fruit, with El Tri confidently capturing the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2011. De la Torre possesses a remarkable coaching CV, having guided teams to three Mexican championships, once at Guadalajara and twice at Toluca. As a player, he appeared at the 1985 FIFA U-20 World Cup and defended the colours of numerous Mexican sides, including Guadalajara, Cruz Azul and Necaxa, as well as Spanish outfit Real Oviedo.
14. Thomas Vermaelen (27) is currently one of Belgium’s top defenders, and will form part of his country’s last line of defence as they look to make a triumphant return to the FIFA World Cup in 2014. As a young man, the imposing centre-back played at the UEFA European U-21 Championship and at the Olympic Football Tournament at Beijing 2008. A product of Ajax’s renowned youth academy, it was with the Amsterdam club that he first experienced tangible success, winning the Dutch League, Cup (twice) and Super Cup (also twice). Vermaelen’s fine performances saw Arsenal move to procure his services in the summer of 2009, now establishing himself to such a degree he his been granted the captain's armband.
15. John Heitinga (29) is one of the key components of the Netherlands’ rearguard, distinguishing himself at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, where he entertained hopes of lifting the FIFA World Cup before having to settle for second place. In addition, he represented his country at the last three European Championships and appeared at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup earlier in his career. Heitinga rose to prominence at Ajax, where he won three Dutch league winners’ medals, lifted the Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup on seven occasions in total, and earned the title of Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2008. After a stint at Atletico Madrid, he put pen to paper with Everton, the club at which he has spent the past three seasons.
16. Paul Scholes (38) is a living legend at Old Trafford, where he has spent the best part of 20 years defending the colours of Manchester United. After having initially announced his retirement last year, he reversed his decision to help out the club during an injury crisis. The Red Devils midfielder has attained ten English league championships, three FA Cups, two English League Cups, five Community Shields, two UEFA Champions League titles, an Intercontinental Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. On the international stage, he turned out for England at two FIFA World Cups, France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002, and two European Championships, Belgium/Netherlands 2000 and Portugal 2004. While a youth player, Scholes triumphed at the UEFA European U-18 Championship in 1993.
17. Gabriel (32) will be aiming to celebrate his birthday in style by hoisting the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 with Brazil, a victory that would represent a second successive triumph at this level for him and for his nation alike.