In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com brings you some of the biggest names on Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
13. Akira Kaji (32) has made a significant contribution to the game in Japan, both domestically and on the international scene. The energetic right-back helped his country to finish second at the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Nigeria, before being promoted to the senior team, with whom he claimed victory at the 2004 AFC Asian Cup. He subsequently played at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2005 and at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, which was the Asians’ third successive appearance at the global showpiece. As a Gamba Osaka player, he won two league titles, two Emperor’s Cups, a Japanese Super Cup and the 2008 AFC Champions League, and also secured third place at the FIFA Club World Cup. Kaji previously defended the colours of Cerezo Osaka, Oita Trinita and FC Tokyo.
14. Dominique Rocheteau (58) played a key role in France’s maiden UEFA European Championship triumph in 1984, and appeared at three FIFA World Cups: Argentina 1978, Spain 1982 - where Les Bleus finished fourth, and at Mexico 1986 where they attained third place. The clinical striker played for just three clubs, starting with Saint-Etienne, where he earned winners’ medals in three league campaigns and a French Cup final, but had to settle for a runners-up slot in the 1978 European Cup final. Rocheteau then signed for Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he again won the league and the Coupe de France (twice). After seven years in the French capital, he moved to Toulouse, where he saw out the remainder of his career.
15. Essam El Hadary (39) is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers that Africa has ever produced. Between 2006 and 2010, the Egyptian emerged victorious at three CAF Africa Cup of Nations competitions in a row, and was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament at each one. He took part in two FIFA Confederations Cups with the Pharaohs, in 1999 and 2009, and also enjoyed success at the African Games and the Pan Arab Games. El Hadary's most productive times at club level have come at Al Ahly, where he has won eight league championships, four Egyptian Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups, four CAF Champions League titles, four CAF Super Cups, one Arab Club Champions Cup and two Arab Super Cups. In addition, he played in two FIFA Club World Cups with the Cairo-based heavyweights, securing third spot in 2006. He also tried his luck in Europe with Swiss outfit Sion, with whom he lifted the national cup. He added further honours to his footballing CV with Sudanese side Al Merreikh, triumphing in the domestic league and cup. As he approaches the end of a long career which also included spells with Ismaily, Zamalek and Al Ittihad, the much-admired shot-stopper is hopeful of going out on a high note by propelling Egypt to Brazil 2014, after previously experiencing four failed FIFA World Cup qualifying attempts
16. Pablo Zabaleta (27) is currently Argentina’s first-choice right-back, and has gradually emerged as one of the best players in the world at that position. He demonstrated his talent on the international stage very early on, taking part in the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup and in the 2003 and 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cups, hoisting the latter trophy alongside a young Lionel Messi. He also participated in the Olympic Football Tournament at Beijing 2008, where he picked up a gold medal, and in the 2011 Copa America, and is now fully focused on helping La Albiceleste to book a berth at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. The reliable defender began his career in his homeland with San Lorenzo, where he held aloft the Copa Sudamericana. Following a three-year stint with Espanyol in Catalonia, during which he won the Copa del Rey, Zabaleta put pen to paper with Manchester City, a decision that has since been rewarded with success in the Community Shield, FA Cup and English Premier League.
17. Alvaro Arbeloa (29) has been involved in all of Spain’s major campaigns over the past few seasons, winning UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, finishing third at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, and playing an integral part in their recent UEFA EURO 2012 victory. Despite intense competition for places, he will likely fancy his chances of acquiring further silverware with La Roja in the future. Arbeloa came through the ranks at Real Madrid, before moving to Liverpool by way of Deportivo La Coruna. After two seasons at Anfield, he returned to Real Madrid, where he has since captured the Copa del Rey, La Liga and Spanish Super Cup.
18. Peter Beardsley (51) represented England at two consecutive FIFA World Cups during their most successful period of recent times. Firstly at Mexico 1986, where they bowed out at the quarter-final stage versus future champions Argentina, and Italy 1990, where the Three Lions earned a creditable fourth-placed finish, after losing out on penalties to Germany in the semi-final. Beardsley made his name at Newcastle United, before being transferred to Liverpool in 1987. Four productive campaigns with the Merseyside giants saw the deep-lying forward land the FA Cup and two English championships, while finishing as a runner-up in the league on two other occasions. Beardsley pulled on the jerseys of a variety of other clubs during his career, including Carlisle United, Vancouver Whitecaps, Manchester United, Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, before hanging up his boots while on the books of Melbourne Knights.
19. Claudio Marchisio (26) proved during EURO 2012 that the Squadra Azzurra could rely on him in the middle of the park, as the Italians charged to their first continental final in twelve years. It was during the qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that the central midfielder cemented his place in Italy’s national set-up, and he would go on to make two appearances at the tournament proper in South Africa. Back in 2008, he had already been called up to his country’s Olympic squad ahead of the Beijing Games. Marchisio is a product of Juventus’ youth academy, and stepped up to the senior side during La Vecchia Signora’s season in Serie B, establishing himself in the XI that won the division and regained promotion to the Italian top flight in the process. Last year, he inspired the Turin club to claim the Serie A title in an unbeaten league season, before kicking off this term with an Italian Super Cup victory.