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 Fabio Coentrao (24) played a solid part in Portugal’s run to the Round-of-16 at the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010™. The left back, who occasionally plays in midfield, played in all of Os Navegadores’ four matches including the narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain which knocked them out. Coentrao previously appeared at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 where the Portuguese were also beaten in the first knockout round. Starting his career with local club Rio Ave, he soon caught the eye of giants Benfica, who secured his services. However, a lack of playing time led to loans to Nacional, Real Zaragoza and former club Rio Ave. On his return, the defender established his place in the first team and won a league title and two Portuguese League Cups. His efficiency at the back and willingness to get forward were noticed by Jose Mourinho who, at the start of the current season, brought him to Real Madrid. ‘Figo das Caxinas’ will expect to add to his honours list this season with the Los Merengues currently well clear at the top of the league.
12 Andreas Kopke (50) helped Germany to the UEFA EURO 1996 crown, conceding a mere three goals all tournament. Those fantastic performances led to him being awarded European Goalkeeper of the Year that season. Understudy to Bodo Illgner as Germany lifted the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy and then again at USA 1994, Kopke was fist choice at France 1998 but could do nothing to prevent Croatia’s shock 3-0 win at the quarter-final stage. His career started with Holstein Kiel, SCC Berlin and Hertha Berlin, before a move to Nurnberg proved the right one as he soon received his first call-up to the national side. A long stay with Der Club was followed by transfers to Frankfurt and then Marseille. Neither spell was particularly successful and the keeper returned to his former club Nurnberg before becoming goalkeeping coach to the national side. Kopke will be hoping to help Manuel Neuer repeat his own heroics of 16 years ago at this summer’s EURO 2012.
13 Bruno Conti (57) was an undisputed starter in Italy’s triumph at the FIFA World Cup Spain 1982 as well as four years later at Mexico 1986, scoring one goal in eleven games at the global showpiece. Apart from two season-long loans with Genoa, Conti spent almost his whole career with Roma, where he lifted a league title and four Coppas Italia, as well as reaching the final of a European Cup. He later became caretaker manager of his beloved Roma for a short while, leading them to the final of the Coppa Italia, before being replaced by Luciano Spalletti.
14 Nicolas Anelka (33) has appeared at a number of international tournaments, including EURO 2000 and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2001, where he collected winner’s medals. Later in his career he was part of France sides that exited at the group stage at EURO 2008 and South Africa 2010. Rising through the ranks of Paris Saint-Germain, he moved to Arsenal at a young age and in a three-year spell in North London lifted a league title, an FA Cup and a League Cup. The striker was also voted PFA Young Player of the Year in his time with the Gunners. His extraordinary eye for goal led to demand from some of the biggest European clubs and he soon signed for Real Madrid. With Los Merengues, Anelka lifted the UEFA Champions League but moved back to local club Paris-Saint-Germain in order to recapture his old form. A UEFA Intertoto Cup victory seemed to place him back on track but the charismatic centre-forward then decided to return to the Premier League with a loan to Liverpool. That move did not work out but he was snapped up by Manchester City where he would spend the next three seasons. He then completed a transfer to Turkish outfit Fenerbahce, winning a league title, before returning to the Premier League with Bolton. West London giants Chelsea then took the frontman under their wing and he lifted a league title, two FA Cups and a Community Shield. Anelka also missed the seventh and final penalty in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final shoot-out, resulting in Manchester United’s triumph. With the Blues, he finished as top scorer of the Premier League in 2008-09 before moving to the Far East with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua early this year.
15 Fernando De Napoli (48) participated in two FIFA World Cups, at Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990, finishing third in the latter, and also featured with the Azzurri at EURO 1988. The winger played a major part in Napoli’s success in the Maradona years, lifting two Scudettos, a Coppa Italia and an Italian Super Cup as well as a UEFA Cup. A transfer to AC Milan brought him a further two league titles, one Italian Super Cup and one European Cup. He then moved to southern Italy with Reggina, where he brought an end to a long career in 1997.
16 John Doyle (46) helped the USA to qualification for the FIFA World Cup Italy 1990 after a long absence from the global showpiece, and featured in two games there. Two years earlier, Doyle had appeared at the Olympic Football Tournament Seoul 1988. His club career was spent in both Europe and the USA, with spells at Orgryte IS in Sweden and VfB Leipzig in Germany as well as the San Jose Earthquakes, San Francisco Bay Blackhawks and Atlanta Ruckus in his homeland. After hanging up his boots, Doyle took up a career in management, becoming general manager of his old club San Jose Earthquakes after a spell as assistant coach.
17 Edin Dzeko (26) is already considered to be one of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s greatest ever players, having led his national side to the play-offs for both South Africa 2010™ and EURO 2012. Unfortunately for Dzeko, Zmajevi lost both play-offs against star-studded Portugal. The Bosnian started his career with Zeljeznicar in his homeland before signing with Teplice and then Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic. A move to Wolfsburg paid off spectacularly as the frontman led die Wolfe to their first ever Bundesliga in 2009. His talent up front caught the eye of Roberto Mancini who brought him to Manchester City in January 2011, winning the FA Cup in his first year with the Citizens. With City currently topping the league, the Bosnian Diamond will be hoping to help the blue-and-white of Manchester to a first league title since 1968.