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.
15 Finidi George (41) played a frontline role as Nigeria contested their first ever FIFA World Cup™ finals at USA 1994, the Super Eagles leaving the tournament with their heads held high following a thrilling Round of 16 loss to Italy. The winger also helped his country qualify for France 1998, where they again reached the last 16, and he disputed four separate editions of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, tasting glory at Tunisia 1994 in his second attempt. His other trips to the continental showcase yielded a defeat in the final and two third-place finishes. In the professional sphere, George experienced his greatest successes at Ajax, clinching numerous trophies, including three league titles, two Dutch Super Cups, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup. He left Amsterdam for Real Betis in Spain, finishing on the losing side in a Copa del Rey showpiece, and from there he joined Mallorca, going on to finish his career with the islanders after one final adventure with Ipswich Town.
16 Pierre Littbarski (52) can pride himself on having left a real mark on the German national team, helping his nation to victory against Argentina in the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final. By then, the attacking midfielder had already fallen narrowly short of the global title on two occasions, losing finals to Italy at Spain 1982 and Argentina at Mexico 1986, and during his three campaigns he racked up 18 appearances and three goals. Littbarski also disputed a pair of UEFA European Championships, while in the club realm he remained loyal to Cologne during his years in the Bundesliga, reaching the 1986 UEFA Cup decider, only to lose out to Real Madrid. Further afield, he took in a spell at RC Paris before ultimately hanging up his boots at Japanese outfit JEF United Chiba. Retirement brought a switch to coaching and Littbarski held the reins at several clubs in Germany, Australia, Iran, Japan and Liechtenstein before taking up his current role as an assistant to Felix Magath at Wolfsburg.
17 Horst Hrubesch (61) is one of the most effective forwards ever to have represented Germany, having scored twice to seal victory in the final of UEFA EURO ’80 before taking silver at the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain. He built his reputation at Hamburg, where he won two Bundesliga crowns and twice finished second, as well as topping the scoring charts in 1981/82. With Hrubesch in their ranks, Hamburg also excelled on the European stage, reaching the finals of the UEFA Cup and European Champion Clubs' Cup before they finally won the latter competition against Juventus. He then packed his bags for Standard Liege in Belgium, but returned to Germany to end his career with Dortmund, after which he took up coaching. He has helmed sides in Germany, Austria and Turkey and more recently has been working wonders as coach of Germany’s international youth teams, leading the U-19s and U-21s to European glory.
18 Felix Katongo (28) will be savouring this birthday more than most after helping Zambia to their surprise triumph at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. The brother of team captain Christopher, Felix made two appearances at the tournament, including the showpiece, and he held his nerve from the spot during the decisive penalty shoot-out. The midfielder started to turn heads while at Green Buffaloes in his homeland, and from there he moved to South Africa, enjoying stints with Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns before trying his luck in France with Rennes and Chateauroux. Libyan side Al Ittihad proved his next port of call, though after a short stay he returned to Green Buffaloes.
19 Abelardo (42) was one of Spain’s most gifted defenders of the 1990s, representing La Roja at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups as well as EURO ’96 and 2000. Before that, he clinched gold with Spain at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and it was in Barcelona that he also experienced his greatest triumphs in the club game. Twice he won the Liga, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup with the Catalan giants, while his time at the Camp Nou also yielded a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup success and the UEFA Super Cup. Abelardo finally left Barça to join Alaves, where he ended his career.
20 Shay Given (36) stood between the posts for the Republic of Ireland at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, his saves contributing to the team’s run to the Round of 16, where Spain ended their bid. A product of Celtic’s youth system, Given moved to English side Blackburn Rovers at a young age, and from there was loaned out first to Swindon Town and then to Sunderland, topping the second tier during his time with the north-east club. The goalkeeper really came to prominence at Newcastle United, where he twice finished on the losing side in an FA Cup final, though he picked up an UEFA Intertoto Cup before signing for Manchester City and finally tasting cup success at Wembley. Since the start of the current season, he has been wearing the gloves for Aston Villa.
21 Peter van Vossen (44) represented the Netherlands at USA 1994, making three starts after beginning the tournament as a substitute. Six years later, he was back in a major tournament with the Oranje at EURO 2000, where the co-hosts reached the last four. Van Vossen won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1994/95 and represented a whole raft of clubs during his career, including Anderlecht, Rangers, Istanbulspor, Feyenoord and Vitesse. Since ending his playing days, he has served as an assistant coach with several Dutch sides.