In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays during the coming week.
Salomon Kalou (27) has enjoyed arguably the greatest year of his career with Chelsea, picking up winners’ medals in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup. Having already won the English league, three FA Cups, the League Cup and the Community Shield during his time at Stamford Bridge, the Ivorian attacking midfielder will leave for new club Lille with his head held high. On the international stage, Kalou represented Côte d'Ivoire at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, as well as in the last three CAF Africa Cup of Nations, helping Les Elephants to reach the final in the most recent continental tournament.
Robin Van Persie (29) has had a year of contrasting emotions. On an individual level, the prolific marksman registered his best season since arriving at Arsenal, finishing top scorer in the Premier League with 30 goals (37 in all competitions) and inspiring his side to claim third spot in the table, synonymous with a place in the Champions League – an impressive achievement given the London side’s stuttering start to the season. His joy was tempered, however, by the Netherlands’ failure to advance beyond the group stage of UEFA EURO 2012, a considerable letdown for a team that reached the FIFA World Cup Final in South Africa just two years ago.
Ahmed Osman (33) has become one of Libyan football’s biggest stars over the past few years. Now captain of his national team, he has participated in qualifying campaigns for the FIFA World Cup since 2002, and was on the field for the Mediterranean Knights’ historic victory over Cameroon earlier this year. The forward led his compatriots with confidence at the most recent Africa Cup of Nations, scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with future champions Zambia. A few weeks ago, the Libyans continued their run of good form by reaching the final of the Arab Nations Cup in Saudi Arabia. Osman also appeared at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. He is hopeful of making it to the next FIFA World Cup in Brazil, an unprecedented achievement that would obviously be met with great joy in his homeland. Domestically, the Libyan attacker represents Tunisian outfit Club Africain, and he was part of the team that reached the final of the CAF Confederation Cup at the end of 2011, where they lost out on penalties to Moroccan side MAS Fez.
Louis Saha (34) was sidelined through injury for much of last season, a major disappointment for a player who has terrorised English Premier League defences in previous campaigns. As a Manchester United player, he won two league championships, a League Cup and a Champions League title. A move to Everton saw him put in a consistent level of performance for four years, during which time he scored a total of 35 goals. After leaving Goodison Park, the former Metz star spent the second half of last term with Tottenham Hotspur.
Filippo Inzaghi (39) closed the final chapter of a long and successful career recently, when he revealed that he was finally hanging up his boots. With Italy, he triumphed at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and reached the final of EURO 2000. Much earlier in his career, he was part of the Italian side that emerged victorious at the UEFA European U-21 Championship in 1994. At club level, the clinical striker first began to collect major silverware at Juventus, where he won the Serie A title, the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Inzaghi subsequently joined AC Milan, with whom he secured two Italian championships, an Italian Cup, an Italian Super Cup, two Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. In addition, the Piacenza-born forward had previously led his hometown team to the Serie B title, and had finished top scorer in the Italian top flight with Atalanta. Although now retired, ‘Pippo’ will remain in the game as AC Milan’s youth team coach next season.
Hossam Hassan and Ibrahim Hassan (46) are one of world football’s most famous set of twins, enjoying great success with Egypt and various major Egyptian club sides. They played a key role in the Pharaohs’ grand return to the FIFA World Cup stage in 1990, and took part in their country’s maiden appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1999. Hossam, who performed up front, ended up on the winning team in three Africa Cup of Nations finals, and won the All-Africa Games and the Arab Nations Cup together with Ibrahim, who played at right-back. They rose to prominence by playing alongside each other for great Cairo rivals Al Ahly and Zamalek, winning thirteen Egyptian league titles, five Egyptian Cups and two Egyptian Super Cups in the process. In continental competition they lifted two CAF Champions League trophies, four African Cup Winners’ Cups and one CAF Super Cup. The Hassan brothers were among the first Egyptians to try their hand at European football, turning out for Greek outfit PAOK and Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax. Hossam also played with Al Ain in the UAE, with whom he claimed the league championship, and Al Masry, Tersana and Al Ittihad back in his homeland. After announcing his retirement, he went into coaching, taking charge of various teams in Egypt, including Zamalek, before rejoining current employers Al Masry.
Massimiliano Allegri (45) has established himself as one of Italy’s best coaches, after having worked his way up through the divisions at an impressive pace. He has coached AC Milan for the last two seasons, guiding I Rossoneri to league and Super Cup glory in 2011. This past season, his charges were only denied a second consecutive Serie A crown by Juventus. The young tactician will doubtless be looking to gain revenge in the forthcoming league campaign.