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.
Marta (26) has already become the most famous female footballer of this generation and possibly of all time. Her extraordinary talent has so far been rewarded with five consecutive FIFA World Player Of The Year awards between 2006 and 2010. She led A Seleção to the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007, where the striker was awarded both the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball, and to two silver medals at the Olympic Football Tournament, at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. The supremely gifted Brazilian has scored 60 times in just 63 internationals, including 14 goals in 14 matches at FIFA Women’s World Cups. Marta has managed to win one international competition, the Pan American Games, in 2003 and 2007, but most of her silverware has come playing for a succession of clubs. After starting an illustrious career at Vasco da Gama and then Santa Cruz in her homeland, she moved to northern Europe, with Umea IK. In Sweden, she lifted three league titles, one Swedish Cup and one UEFA Women’s Cup. She then had spells with Los Angeles Sol, Santos, where she lifted the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian Cup, and FC Gold Pride, where she won the WPS Championship and finished as top scorer. In 2011, she again lifted the WPS Championship, with Western New York Flash.
Emad Moteab (29) is a striker who held a spot in the Egyptian squad for more than a decade and was a regular for Cairo-based Al-Ahly. As a youngster, he helped the Pharaohs U-20 side to victory in the African Youth Championships and a second-round finish at the FIFA World Youth Championship UAE 2003. The prolific goalscorer also won three consecutive CAF Africa Cup Of Nations, in 2006, 2008 and 2010, with the full national side. With Al-Ahly, Moteab lifted six league titles, two Egypt Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups, two CAF Champions Leagues and one CAF Super Cup. The forward also earned a Bronze Medal at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2006 with the Red Devils. Moteab then spent a season on loan with Al-Ittihad, which brought him a Saudi league title.
Tony Meola (43) is fondly remembered as one of the greatest American goalkeepers of his time, featuring at the FIFA World Cup Italy 1990™, and most memorably at the global showcase on home soil four years later when USA made it to the second round before losing to eventual champions Brazil. The celebrated stopper also represented his country at the FIFA Youth Championships Chile 1987 and the inaugural FIFA Confederations Cup in 1992. Meola lifted two CONCACAF Gold Cups in nearly twenty years with Team USA. Starting his career in England with brief spells at Brighton and Hove Albion and Watford, he returned home to become one of the stars of the newly-formed Major League Soccer. Meola was signed by MetroStars, where he was a regular starter and then moved to Kansas City Wizards, where he was elected MLS Goalkeeper Of The Year, and ended his career after a short stint with the New York Red Bulls.
Sergio Romero (25) is currently Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper, and featured at the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010. He lifted the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, as well as the Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008, and participated in the last Copa America on home soil as the Albiceleste were knocked out in the quarter-finals after a poor display. Starting his career at Racing Club in Buenos Aires, Romero moved to AZ Alkmaar, where he lifted a league title and the Dutch Super Cup. In 2011, the stopper moved to Sampdoria. In Genoa, he is hoping to assist I Blucerchiati back to Serie A after they were relegated last season.
Gareth Barry (31) is a regular for both club and country, for whom he appeared at the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010. The defensive midfielder spent most of his career at Aston Villa, where he came agonizingly close to an FA Cup triumph in 2000 but the Villans were beaten by a second-half strike by Roberto Di Matteo in the final as Chelsea ran out victors. In 2001 he lifted the Intertoto Cup, and was named his club’s Player Of The Year in 2006/07. Barry then joined Manchester City and won the FA Cup in 2011. He is now hoping to help City to a first league title since 1968.
Magdy Tolba (48) was instrumental in Egypt’s long-awaited return to the global showpiece at the FIFA World Cup Italy 1990, where they bowed out in the first round. Tolba lifted two league titles, one Egypt Cup, two CAF Cup Winners’ Cups and one Afro-Asiatic Cup at Zamalek, before moving to PAOK Salonika. In Greece, the midfielder won the league title, before a transfer to Levski Sofia, where he won a Bulgarian League and Cup double. A move to Anorthosis Famagusta brought him success in the form of a Cypriot league title. Tolba then returned to Cairo, this time with Al-Ahly, where he won three league titles, one Arab Champions League and two Arab Super Cups, before retiring at Ismailia. That final move made him one of the few players in the modern era to have turned out for the top three clubs in Cairo.
Park Ji-Sung (31) has attained hero status in his native Korea Republic, being one of the few East Asians in the Premier League and having participated and scored a vital goal in the Taegeuk Warriors’ shock run to fourth at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002. He also appeared at the following two FIFA World Cups, netting in each, and took part in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2003 and three AFC Asian Cups, before announcing his international retirement in early 2012. After starting his career at Kyoto Sanga, in Japan, he won the Emperor’s Cup before moving to PSV Eindhoven. With the Boeren, the midfielder lifted two league titles, one Dutch Cup and one Dutch Super Cup. His energetic performances in the Netherlands caught the eye of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who promptly signed him in 2005. With the Red Devils, the wingman has won four league titles, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup.