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.
Carlo Ancelotti (53) made his name as a player, but he has also enjoyed significant success as a coach. He guided host nation Italy to third place at the FIFA World Cup™ in 1990, two years after having led them to the semi-finals of UEFA European Championship 1988. The former midfielder began his footballing career at Parma, before moving on to Roma. His time in the Italian capital coincided with a trophy-laden period for the club, as they secured the Serie A title in 1983 and four domestic cups (in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1986). Eight seasons down the line, he signed for AC Milan. He experienced even greater triumphs with I Rossoneri, winning two league championships (in 1988 and 1992), a Coppa Italia (1988), two European Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups (1989 and 1990). After hanging up his boots, Ancelotti tried his hand at coaching, first with Reggina, and then with Parma. The Italian was subsequently handed the reins at Juventus, with whom he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup. But it was at AC Milan that his coaching career truly took off, as he brought back the glory days to the Lombardy club by winning the league (2004), cup (2003), Italian Super Cup (2004), two UEFA Champions League titles and two UEFA Super Cups (2003 and 2007), as well as a FIFA Club World Cup in 2007. The Emilia-Romagna native then decided he was ready for a new challenge, and switched to the English Premier League in order to take charge of Chelsea. Under his command, the London side collected the Community Shield in 2009, followed by a league and cup double in 2010. Having taken over at Paris Saint-Germain at the turn of the year, he promptly steered his new charges to runners-up spot in Ligue 1. Given his pedigree in Europe, PSG supporters are understandably excited to see what magic Ancelotti can produce in next season’s Champions League.
Karrar Jasim (25) played an important role in Iraq’s successful 2007 AFC Asian Cup campaign, the most prestigious triumph in the nation’s history. Lifting the continental trophy provided the Lions of Mesopotamia with a ticket to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. The Iraqis put in a creditable performance at the tournament, recording two draws and a defeat. Prior to that, he was part of the national side that reached the final of the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar. The forward also participated in Iraq’s run to the quarter-finals of the 2011 Asian Cup. Jasim learnt his trade with Najaf, before leaving the country of his birth to defend the colours of Qatari outfit Al Wakra. His next port of call was Teraktor-Sazi in Iran, where his subsequent transfer to giants Esteghlal saw him become the league’s most expensive player. More recently, his performances have inspired Iraq to reach the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, a competition in which the attack-minded international is increasingly hopeful of starring.
Philippe Coutinho (20) is one of Brazilian football’s rising stars. He joined Inter Milan in 2010, despite his then tender age of 18. He would go on to win the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup that same year, and follow it up with an Italian Cup in 2011. This past season, he was sent out on loan to Espanyol to further develop his not inconsiderable talent. It was at Vasco da Gama that the player initially emerged, his skills helping the club to secure the Brazilian second division title in 2009. On the international stage, he was part of the Brazil side that beat Argentina to claim the 2009 South American U-17 Championship, and the team that defeated Portugal to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011.
Keisuke Honda (26) has become a key member of the Japanese national team, after having played a significant part in the Samurai Blue’s successful qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The attacking midfielder caught the eye in South Africa, scoring two goals that helped his side reach the Round of 16 at the tournament. The following year, his inspired performances were instrumental in Japan regaining their continental crown at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar. Honda also previously played in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Netherlands 2005 and the Olympic Football Tournament at the 2008 Beijing Games. Having begun his career at Nagoya Grampus, he left his homeland for the Netherlands, where he won the second division title with VVV-Venlo. His displays brought him to the attention of CSKA Moscow, with whom he lifted the Russian Cup in 2011 and gained valuable Champions League experience. Honda has also attracted individual accolades, such as the Japanese Footballer of the Year award in 2010. The dynamic playmaker has recently been in outstanding form during the final round of Asian qualifying for Brazil 2014.
Elano (31) has triumphed in two major tournaments with Brazil: the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. The midfielder also made appearances for A Seleção at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2011 Copa America. Elano began his professional career at Santos, where he picked up two league winners' medals, in 2002 and 2004. It was at this point that he opted to try his luck across the Atlantic, propelling new employers Shakhtar Donetsk to two consecutive league championships (in 2005 and 2006) and a Ukrainian Super Cup (2005). The South American playmaker then had a two-year spell at Manchester City, before returning to Santos, with whom he added two more league titles (2011 and 2012) and the 2011 Copa Libertadores to his footballing CV. He went on to star for O Peixe at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, but could not prevent his side from being resoundingly beaten by Barcelona in the final.
Michael Laudrup (48) is recognised as one of the greatest players to ever represent Denmark, for whom he performed with verve and at the very highest level. He made his club debut for Copenhagen, before moving to Brondby. He then exported his burgeoning talents to Italy, where he turned out for Lazio and Juventus, winning the 1985 Intercontinental Cup and the 1986 Serie A title with the Turin giants. His next career move saw him head to Spain, with Barcelona his chosen destination. In Catalonia, he was able to fully demonstrate the entire range of his skills, which resulted in the club claiming four Liga titles (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994), a Copa del Rey trophy (1990) and two Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992). But the undisputed highlight of the attacking midfielder’s time at Camp Nou was Barça’s maiden European Cup victory in 1992. Laudrup belongs to a select band of former Barcelona players who dared to sign for great rivals Real Madrid. It proved a shrewd move for the Dane, who provided the creative spark that Los Merengues needed to regain their domestic crown, a feat they achieved in 1995. His stay in the Spanish capital was relatively short-lived, however. Having put pen to paper with Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe, Laudrup then found that he missed top-level European football too much, a situation which led to the gifted midfield man joining Ajax. He won the league and cup double with the Dutch club in 1998, thereby engineering a fitting conclusion to his incredible club career. In the international arena, Laudrup took part in two FIFA World Cups – Mexico 1986 and France 1998 – with Denmark, scoring in both. He also won the 1995 King Fahd Cup (as the FIFA Confederations Cup was originally called) and appeared at three European Championships (in 1984, 1988 and 1996). Once his playing career had come to an end, Laudrup became a coach, enjoying varying levels of success with Brondby, Getafe, Spartak Moscow and Mallorca.
Fernando Muslera (26) has fulfilled a prominent role for the Uruguayan national side over the last two years. After having contributed to his country’s tremendous showing at South Africa 2010, the Argentina-born goalkeeper was an integral part of the team that lifted the Copa America in 2011. Muslera started off at Montevideo Wanderers, before being loaned out to Uruguayan giants Nacional. He moved to Europe, winning the Italian Cup and Super Cup with Lazio in 2009. After three years in Rome, he signed for Turkish heavyweights Galatasaray, with whom he earned a league winners' medal during this past season.