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.
24. Tom Boyd (48) was a lynchpin of the Scotland XI that took part in the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, the nation’s first appearance at the tournament since Italy 1990. The tireless defender played in all three of the Scots’ matches in France, but could not prevent them from suffering a first-round exit. He had previously competed at the UEFA European Championships of 1992 and 1996. Boyd spent seven seasons at Motherwell, with whom he lifted the Scottish Cup, before joining Chelsea. A subsequent move to Celtic saw the Scotland international claim three Scottish Premier League titles, three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups.
25. Aaron Mokoena (33) had the honour of captaining host nation South Africa at the 2010 World Cup. During his long international career, he finished fourth at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and participated in the 2000 Olympic Football Tournament, the 2002 World Cup, and three CAF Africa Cup of Nations competitions, in 2002, 2004 and 2008. The holding midfielder turned professional at Ajax, prior to enjoying spells at Germinal Beerschot, Genk, Blackburn and Portsmouth. In 2012, Mokoena returned to his homeland to sign for his current club, Bidvest Wits.
27. Des Walker (48) helped England to a fourth-place finish at Italy 1990, and also appeared at EURO 1992. The pacey centre-back made his name with Nottingham Forest, where he hoisted two English League Cups. After an adventure abroad with Sampdoria, he spent nine seasons with Sheffield Wednesday. Walker, who was included in the PFA Team of the Year on four occasions, then returned to Forest to see out the remainder of his career.
27. Bruno Alves (32) will be able to thoroughly enjoy his birthday this year, having very recently helped Portugal to qualify for Brazil 2014. The solid centre-half had previously competed at the 2002 and 2004 UEFA European U-21 Championships, the 2004 Olympic Football Tournament, EURO 2008, the 2010 World Cup and EURO 2012. He started out at Porto, where he won four Portuguese League titles, three Portuguese Cups and two Portuguese Super Cups. During his time with the Lisbon heavyweights, the robust defender was sent out on loan to Farense, Vitoria Guimaraes and AEK Athens. Alves’ performances at South Africa 2010 piqued the interest of Zenit St. Petersburg, with whom he went on to secure two Russian League crowns and a Russian Super Cup. In 2009, he was named Primeira Liga Player of the Year.
28. Alvaro Pereira (28) played a key role in Uruguay’s run to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and in their triumphant 2011 Copa America campaign, during which he scored two goals in the group stage, and was also involved in the Confederations Cup earlier this year. The left-sided full-back is now likely to make an appearance at Brazil 2014, following La Celeste’s recent qualification via an intercontinental play-off. Pereira began his career with Montevideo-based Miramar Misiones, but decided to export his skills to Argentina, where he represented Quilmes and Argentinos Juniors. The Uruguayan then moved to Europe to defend the colours of Romanian side Cluj, with whom he held aloft the Romanian Cup. A transfer to Porto proved highly productive, as he clinched two Portuguese Championships, two Portuguese Cups, three Portuguese Super Cups and a UEFA Europa League crown over a three-year period. Last season, he put pen to paper with Inter Milan.
29. Tomas Brolin (44) is a living legend of Swedish football, having propelled his national side to the semi-finals of both EURO 1992 – where he finished top scorer – and of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where the Scandinavian side eventually finished third. In addition, the dynamic forward took part in Italy 1990 and the 1992 Olympic Football Tournament in Barcelona. Following spells with Swedish outfits Nasvikens, Sundsvall and Norrkoping, he signed for Parma, where he added an Italian Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup to his footballing CV. He would later pull on the jerseys of Leeds United, FC Zurich and Crystal Palace, and also briefly returned to Parma on loan. Brolin was voted Swedish Footballer of the Year in 1990 and 1994.
30. Nigel de Jong (29) has firmly established himself in the Dutch national set-up over the past few years, and can look back with pride on his convincing displays during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where the Netherlands fell at the final hurdle versus Spain. The dogged defensive midfielder also played at the last two EUROs, and contributed to the Oranje’s successful qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. De Jong came through the ranks at Ajax, scooping a Dutch League title, Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup after his promotion to the senior team. He then tried his luck with Hamburg, prior to joining Manchester City, where he earned winners’ medals in the English Premier League, English League Cup and Community Shield. The tough-tackling Dutchman moved to AC Milan in August 2012.