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.
Nahomi Kawasumi (27) has played a key role in the recent achievements of Japan’s women’s team, lifting the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, a tournament in which she scored two crucial goals in her country’s 3-1 semi-final win over Sweden, and following that up with a silver medal at this year's Women's Olympic Football Tournament, where the Nadeshiko only lost out to an impressive American side. Kawasumi did manage to pick up a gold earlier in her career, at the 2010 Asian Games. The Kobe Leonessa midfielder has been equally successful at club level, securing both the Japanese League and Cup over the past two campaigns. She has also regularly featured in individual awards ceremonies, claiming the title of Japanese Footballer of the Year last season, and being named in the Team of the Year in 2010 and 2011.
John Arne Riise (32) is regarded as one of the world’s top left-backs, as dangerous going forward as he is solid in defence. While he may not yet have had the opportunity to compete at major international competitions with Norway, he has thus far enjoyed a highly productive club career. At Monaco, he was part of the team that triumphed in Ligue 1 and the Trophée des Champions, before leaving for Liverpool, where he added a UEFA Champions League and two UEFA Super Cup medals to his collection. The Norwegian full-back also won two Community Shields, an English League Cup and an FA Cup during his time on Merseyside, and earned a runners-up spot at the FIFA Club World Cup. After seven seasons in England, Riise signed for Roma, prior to making a return to the Premier League last season to join Fulham.
Siphiwe Tshabalala (28) is one of his country’s most prominent stars, scoring a memorable goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the first South African to do so at that year’s event. He also helped the Bafana Bafana reach the semi-finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, but was unable to prevent Spain claiming third place after a penalty shoot-out. After having taken part in two CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, he is currently preparing for a third continental challenge, one that will take place on home soil this time around. The full-back has represented two South African clubs during his career, Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs. With the former outfit, he won the second division championship, before going on to win numerous national honours with the latter side. He was voted South African Player of the Year in 2010.
Michael Ballack (36) is one of the finest midfielders Germany has produced in recent times, a status he lived up to by propelling his nation to the Final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. The three-time world champions lost the winner-take-all clash with Brazil and Ballack finished the tournament with three goals to his name. Four years later, he was part of the side that attained third place at Germany 2006, a repeat of their 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup placing. The dynamic playmaker also played in three UEFA European Championships, enabling Die Nationalelf to finish second to Spain in 2008. Two summers down the line, an unfortunate injury prevented him from participating at South Africa 2010. Ballack came through the ranks at local side Chemnitzer, where his displays caught the eye of Kaiserslautern. His arrival sparked instant success for Die roten Teufel, as they secured their first Bundesliga title in eight years. After a two-season spell at Bayer Leverkusen, he signed for Bayern Munich, where he substantially increased his medal tally, winning three league championships, three German Cups and one German League Cup. He moved to England to join Chelsea, where he was no less successful, lifting three FA Cups, an English League Cup and a Community Shield, although the Champions League title remained elusive. He subsequently returned to Leverkusen for two seasons, but injuries limited his playing time. Ballack is currently on the lookout for a new club.
Francesco Totti (36) will doubtless look back on his involvement in Italy’s capture of a fourth FIFA World Cup crown in 2006 as the highlight of his career, especially as it more than made up for the disappointments he had suffered at Korea/Japan 2002 and UEFA EURO 2000. The attacking midfielder’s name is intrinsically linked with the only club he has ever played for in his 20-year career, Roma, for whom he remains a talismanic player. He has emerged victorious in Serie A, two Italian Cups and two Italian Super Cups during his time in the Italian capital. In addition, he has finished runner-up in the league six times, and has been on the losing side of the Coppa Italia final on four occasions. On an individual level, he has twice been voted Serie A Player of the Year, and finished top scorer in the league in season 2006/07.
Ahmed Shoubeir (51) is one of the most highly-regarded goalkeepers in the history of Egyptian football, having starred in his country’s successful qualifying campaign for the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy, where his performances marked him out as one of the best custodians in the competition. Shoubeir also played in the Africa Cup of Nations and helped Egypt to hoist their first-ever Arab Nations Cup. The shot-stopper began his career in his hometown of Tanta, before signing for domestic heavyweights Al Ahly. He was forced to bide his time in Cairo, as the Red Devils already had legendary 'keeper Sabet Al Batal on their books, but once established as a first-team player, he went on to win various domestic honours with the club. On the continental stage, Shoubeir also triumphed in the African Cup of Champions Clubs, the African Cup Winners’ Cup (four times), the Arab Champions League and the Arab Cup Winners’ Cup.
Andriy Shevchenko (36) recently brought down the curtain on his international career with Ukraine, after having inspired his country to qualify for a maiden FIFA World Cup appearance, at Germany 2006, where he and his team-mates gave a good account of themselves, bowing out at the quarter-final stage at the hands of future world champions Italy. Six years later, despite his advancing years, he worked wonders at EURO 2012, scoring two goals that would eventually prove insufficient to spur the Ukrainians on to the knockout stage. The freescoring forward first made a name for himself at Dynamo Kyiv, racking up five league titles, three Ukrainian Cups and one Ukrainian Super Cup. A big-money transfer to AC Milan saw him develop into a genuine footballing superstar, as his goals helped I Rossoneri to conquer the Serie A title, the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup, as well as the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup. Shevchenko then left Lombardy to try his hand at English football with Chelsea. He held aloft the FA Cup and League Cup during his stint in London, before returning home to put pen to paper with former employers Dynamo. The clinical striker won a host of individual accolades in his long and successful career, including European Footballer of the Year (2004), and Ukrainian Footballer of the Year (six times). He also finished top of the scoring charts in his homeland, in Italy, and in the Champions League.