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.
30. Daniel Amokachi (40) played a central role in Nigeria’s emergence as a footballing force, helping the Super Eagles to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time ever, in 1994. He scored two goals during the first of his country’s two group-stage victories in the USA, paving the way for an appearance in the second round. Prior to this achievement, the explosive forward had been part of the side that captured the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier that same year, a triumph that led to Nigeria playing at the 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup, where the African representatives finished fourth, due in part to two further goals from Amokachi. The Nigerian front man also won an impressive gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta, before bringing the curtain down on his international career at France 1998. After having started out at Ranchers Bees in his homeland, he moved to Europe to join Club Brugge in Belgium. He subsequently pulled on the jerseys of Everton, Besiktas, Creteil and Colorado Rapids, and hung up his boots after a spell in the United Arab Emirates. A move into coaching has seen Amokachi take charge of Nigerian outfits Nassarawa and Enyimba.
31. Gregory Coupet (40) is, in terms of silverware, one of the most successful goalkeepers in the history of French football. As well as twice lifting the FIFA Confederations Cup – in 2001 and 2003 – and participating in UEFA EURO 2008 with France, he won no fewer than fourteen national trophies during his eleven seasons between the sticks at Lyon, including seven league championships and one Coupe de France. Coupet turned professional while at Saint-Etienne, and following his honours-laden stint at Stade Gerland, the French custodian signed for Atletico Madrid, before seeing out his career with Paris St Germain, where he once again hoisted the French Cup.
1. Davor Suker (44) rose to prominence at a tender age, securing the FIFA U-20 World Cup with Yugoslavia in 1987, a competition at which he finished top goalscorer, and also turned out at the Olympic Games, at Seoul 1988. In 1996, he propelled Croatia to their first-ever appearance at the UEFA European Championship, where they reached the quarter-finals, with Suker hitting the back of the net on three occasions during the continental contest. The greatest feat of the Balkan attacker’s career came two years later, however, when he not only led the Croatians to a maiden FIFA World Cup qualification, at France 1998, but also drove his team-mates on to claim third place at the tournament proper, assisted by six goals from the clinical striker, a tally that saw him earn the Golden Boot award. He bid farewell to the international game after Croatia’s exit from Korea/Japan 2002. Suker initially honed his ability to find the net at NK Osijek and Dinamo Zagreb, before subsequent transfers to Sevilla and Real Madrid proved he could score at any level. His time with Los Blancos was highly productive, as he picked up winners’ medals in La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup. After putting pen to paper with Arsenal, he went on to lose the UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray. A season at West Ham ensued, before Suker announced his retirement while at 1860 Munich.
2. Heather O'Reilly (27) will look back on the last twelve months with some fondness, following her third successive gold medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012, adding to those she had already earned at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. In addition, the American midfielder was part of the USA teams that finished third at the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007™ and second at Germany 2011, when Japan proved too strong for them. She had also previously held aloft the 2002 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada. At club level, O’Reilly played for New Jersey Wildcats, with whom she won the developmental USL W-League, and FC Sky Blue, where she secured the professional WPS championship. Over the summer, she signed for Boston Breakers.
3. Abdulaziz Al Anbari (58) is a living legend of Kuwait football, having enabled his national team to claim their one and only AFC Asian Cup, in 1980, and to qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain, which was the diminutive Middle Eastern nation’s first and last appearance on football’s greatest stage. The player remained a loyal servant to Al Kuwait SC throughout his club career, winning numerous national trophies in their colours.
4. Toni Kroos (22) did not take long to make a name for himself in German football, playing a key role in his team’s third-placed finish at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award for his excellent performances. He was then named in Die Nationalelf’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, where the Germans again finished third. He maintained his spot ahead of EURO 2012, helping his nation to the semi-finals, and is currently involved in the qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. The attack-minded midfield man came through the ranks at Bayern Munich, before embarking on a loan spell with Bayer Leverkusen. He then returned to the Bavarian giants in time to add a Bundesliga title, a German Cup, a German League Cup and two German Super Cups to his footballing CV. Earlier this year, he missed out on a golden opportunity to get his hands on the UEFA Champions League trophy, following Bayern’s home defeat by Chelsea.
5. Uli Hoeness (60) can look back with pride on a remarkable career, the highlight of which was undoubtedly inspiring West Germany to reclaim the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 1974, twenty years after their first victory in the tournament and two years after enjoying European Championship glory in 1972. The forward also appeared at the same tournament four years later, where the West Germans came close to recording a repeat success, before losing out to Czechoslovakia on penalties. As a Bayern Munich player, he won three league titles and a German Cup, as well as three consecutive European Cups and an Intercontinental Cup. A serious injury forced Hoeness to prematurely give up the game, but he would go on to enjoy equally impressive success as Bayern’s general manager for three decades, before moving upstairs to take on the role of club president in 2009.