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.
27 Paul Gascoigne (45) was one of the most gifted and charismatic footballers ever to represent England. His skills in an attacking midfield role helped his side reach the last four at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™, where they succumbed to West Germany following a penalty shoot-out – and Gascoigne and Co then suffered the same fate against Germany in the semi-finals at UEFA EURO 1996. In the club arena, Gazza left lasting memories at every club he played for, starting off by winning the FA Youth Cup with Newcastle United before signing for Tottenham Hotspur and lifting the English League Cup in 1991. From there, he made a high-profile yet ultimately less-rewarding switch to Lazio, but he soon bounced back at Glasgow Rangers, clinching the Scottish title, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in 1996. Along with that memorable treble, Gascoigne also took the Scottish player of the year plaudits, and more success followed in 1997 as Rangers defended their league crown. He then returned to England to join Middlesbrough, with whom he reached the League Cup final in 1998, and he took in spells at Everton and Burnley before ending his playing days with Boston United.
28 Sami Allagui (26) has been gradually making a name for himself in the Bundesliga ever since agreeing terms with Mainz two years ago, his goals and versatility helping the modest club finish as high as fifth in 2011. Allagui began his career with Anderlecht and also turned out for Roeselare before moving to Germany, the country of his birth. There, he tried his luck in the second tier until Mainz came calling, and with his current club he has been increasingly demonstrating the full range of his attacking qualities. At international level, the forward defends the colours of Tunisia and made a number of appearances before being selected for the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. He now hopes to represent the Carthage Eagles at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, with their qualifying campaign about to commence in a few days’ time.
29 Roberto Di Matteo (42) is currently enjoying the greatest triumph of his career after leading Chelsea to their maiden UEFA Champions League triumph, just two weeks on from also securing FA Cup glory. That double trophy haul has utterly transformed Di Matteo’s reputation as a coach, his first experience in the role having come at Milton Keynes Dons before he led West Bromwich Albion into the Premier League. His next appointment was as an assistant to Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea, and he was given his chance to shine after the Portuguese tactician was dismissed in March. As a player, Di Matteo first learnt the ropes with Schaffhausen in his native Switzerland, where he also played for Zurich and Aarau, winning the Swiss league title with the latter outfit in 1993. The midfielder subsequently signed for Lazio and, three years later, became one of the first Italians to test their mettle at Stamford Bridge. It proved a shrewd choice as he went on to clinch the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000, the League Cup in 1998, the Community Shield in 2000, and both the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 1998, before retiring four years later. In an Italy shirt, Di Matteo took part in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and EURO ‘96.
30 Thomas Hassler (46) is a legend of the German game, having helped his national side to victory at the 1990 FIFA World Cup and EURO ’96. The midfielder also got a taste of USA 1994, France 1998 and the 1988 Olympics, not to mention EURO ’92 – where Germany finished runners-up – and EURO 2000. Before that, he made his name with Cologne and twice finished second in the Bundesliga with the club as well as reaching the UEFA Cup final. He also suffered defeat in the Coppa Italia showpiece with Roma in 1993, after joining the capital outfit from Juventus, and upon his return to Germany he enjoyed stints with Karlsruhe, Borussia Dortmund and Munich 1860. Hassler finally called time on his career while at Salzburg in Austria.
31 Marco Reus (23) caught the eye this season as he contributed to Borussia Monchengladbach’s impressive fourth-place finish in Germany’s top division, weighing in with 18 goals to also take fourth spot in the scoring charts. The forward likewise served up 11 assists and was rewarded by being named Germany’s young player of the year by his peers, earning a summer transfer to league and cup winners Dortmund in the process. Reus has been included in Germany’s provisional squad for the upcoming EURO, and the exciting youngster has made no secret of his desire to travel to Poland and Ukraine with the final 23-man party.
1 Javier Hernandez (24) has emerged as a pillar of Mexico’s national team in the last couple of years despite his relative inexperience. He made the trip to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and scored a pair of goals to help El Tri reach the last 16, and the following year he played a frontline role in his nation’s CONCACAF Gold Cup victory, topping the scoring table with seven strikes. Chicharito also participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 while still at his first club Deportivo Guadalajara, with whom he won Mexico’s Apertura title in 2006. His eye for goal persuaded Manchester United to bring him to Old Trafford four years later, and he celebrated success in the Premier League and Community Shield in 2011, before narrowly missing out on another championship winners’ medal in the final moments of the 2011/2012 campaign.
2 Sergio Aguero (24) changed the destination of the Premier League title earlier this month with a single goal that handed Manchester City the spoils. Neighbours Manchester United looked set to retain their crown on the last day of the campaign until the Argentinian striker held his nerve to fire his team to victory against Queens Park Rangers in the dying seconds. It was typical of the expert finisher and earned him yet another trophy in an impressive list of honours for a player still so young. Indeed, before representing Argentina at South Africa 2010, Kun helped his country win consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cups in 2005 and 2007, before taking gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. At club level, he started out with Independiente and began his European experience with Atletico Madrid, where he scooped the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2010.