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.
5 Cristiano Ronaldo (27) is one of the finest players of his generation. The Real Madrid star has appeared in two FIFA World Cups™ for his native Portugal, at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, as well as two European Championships, in 2004 and 2008. At his first global showcase, Portugal reached the semi-finals before a penalty by France’s Zinedine Zidane condemned Os Navegadores to a third place play-off against Germany, which they lost 3-1.
Ronaldo came closest to winning an international competition at his first EUROs, in Portugal, as the hosts lost to underdogs Greece in the final. The winger, who also plays as a striker, rose to international fame at Sporting Lisbon at the tender age of 17. His performances with Leões led to a league title, Portuguese Cup and Super Cup and interest from a number of British clubs, culminating in his sale to Manchester United. During his spell at Old Trafford, the prolific goalscorer won three Premier Leagues, one FA Cup, two League Cups and a Community Shield as well as one UEFA Champions League which was quickly followed by a FIFA Club World Cup.
His exploits for the Red Devils led to him becoming the world’s most expensive ever player when he was sold to Real Madrid for €94 million. In 2011, CR7 scored the winning goal in extra-time to help Los Merengues to a first Copa Del Rey in 18 years. Ronaldo is currently vying for his first La Liga title in the Spanish capital. The footballing phenomenon has won numerous individual awards, including one Ballon d’Or, one FIFA World Player of the Year and two European Golden Shoes. He finished top scorer of the Premier League in 2008, of La Liga in 2011 and of the UEFA Champions League in 2008.
6 Javi Navarro (38) was never one of Spain’s biggest stars, but made his name in domestic and European competitions. After winning the Copa Del Rey and Spanish Super Cup in addition to a UEFA Intertoto Cup with Valencia, he joined Seville. In Andalusia, he again lifted a Copa Del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, before going one better in Europe and winning the UEFA Cup. This triumph led to a UEFA Super Cup. The solid defender represented his country at the 1996 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championships where the Spaniards finished as runners-up to an Italian side including the likes of Francesco Totti and Fabio Cannavaro. After retiring with the Sevillistas, the former centre-back became an assistant to current coach Marcelino.
7 Rafik Saifi (37) scored three goals that helped Algeria qualify for the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010™. At the tournament proper, he played two matches in the group stage as Les Fennecs failed to qualify for the Round of 16. The striker also featured for Algeria at three CAF African Cup of Nations. In his last, in Angola, he managed to lead his country to a fourth-place finish. After making his name with MC Alger, winning a league title, he moved to France, where he enjoyed the best spell of his career at Troyes, with whom he won a UEFA Intertoto Cup. He also turned out for Al Khor in Qatar.
8 Hristo Stoichkov (46) appeared at the FIFA World Cup USA 1994™ where he led his native Bulgaria to a fantastic fourth-place finish. The striker was jointly awarded the adidas Golden Shoe at the competition where he scored six goals. Considered by some to be the best Bulgarian footballer of all time, Stoichkov also participated at France 1998 and at Euro 1996. His club career saw him start off at CSKA Sofia where he lifted three league titles, four Bulgarian Cups and one Bulgarian Super Cup. His stellar performances in his native country brought him a move to giants Barcelona, where he won five league titles, four consecutively, one Copa Del Rey and three Spanish Super Cups. The gunslinger, as he was known in Catalonia, also helped the Blaugrana to a first ever UEFA Champions League, beating Sampdoria at the old Wembley. After winning two UEFA Super Cups and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the Bulgarian decided it was time for a change.
For a few years he travelled all over the globe, enjoying spells with Parma, Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, where he lifted the AFC Cup Winners’ Cup, Japanese outfit Kashiwa Reysol, Chicago Fire, where he won a US Open Cup, and finally DC United where he hung up his boots. He then decided to take up a career in management with his national side, before spells at the helm of Celta Vigo and South Africans Mamelodi Sundowns. Back in his native Bulgaria, he is now in charge of current champions Litex Lovetch. Stoichkov’s personal honours include being named European Footballer Of The Year in 1994 and finishing as the highest goalscorer in Europe in 1989.
9 Jordi Cruyff (38) participated at Euro 1996 with the Netherlands, but never got the chance to play at a FIFA World Cup. He did, however, have a successful club career. Rising through the ranks of Barcelona, where his father Johan is considered a legend, he won a Spanish Super Cup, before moving to Manchester United. With the Red Devils, his career stalled somewhat, as injuries prevented him from earning a regular place in the starting line-up. Although United won a number of titles while Cruyff was at the club, the Dutchman only collected one Premier League winner's medal, in 1996-97. A return to Spain with Alaves saw him lead the Basque side to a UEFA Cup final, against Liverpool. In a fantastic match, the Reds beat the Spanish side 5-4 in extra time. The midfielder put an end to his career after a league and cup winning spell in Malta with FC Valleta, where he was also an assistant manager. He is now the manager of Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.
10 Radamel Falcao (26) is hoping to become one of the best strikers in the world. The frontman helped Porto to the 2011 UEFA Europa League, scoring 17 goals in the process, including one in the final. That tally shattered Jurgen Klinsmann’s record of 15 goals in a European competition in a season. The Colombian started his career in Argentina with River Plate. Given free rein to express his talents, he took full advantage, leading Los Millionarios to the 2008 Clausura. A move to Porto brought him a league title, two Portuguese Cups and Super Cups, before signing for Atletico Madrid. With his national side, the forward participated at the last Copa America, as Los Cafeteros reached the quarter-finals. Falcao will be hoping to help Colombia qualify for their first FIFA World Cup since 1998.
11 José Maria Bakero (49) was one of the best Spanish midfielders of the late 20th century. Representing his country at Italy 1990 and USA 1994, the Spaniard also played at Euro 1988. He was first noticed at Real Sociedad, where he lifted two La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey and two Spanish Super Cups. His performances in the Basque country brought him a move across Spain to Barcelona, with whom he won a UEFA Champions League, two UEFA Cup Winners Cups and one UEFA Super Cup. His success in the domestic side of the game was just as remarkable as he won two Copa Del Reys and two Spanish Super Cups. After ending his career in Mexico with Veracruz, the flamboyant attacking midfielder then elected to become manager of his old club Real Sociedad, before moving to Poland to take over at Polonia Warsaw and then Lech Poznan.