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.
3. Oscar Cordoba (43) was Colombia’s first-choice goalkeeper for the best part of 15 years, appearing at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ and playing a key role in Los Cafeteros’ maiden Copa America triumph in 2001. That achievement qualified the South Americans for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they finished fourth. Cordoba’s first major club honour – the Colombian League title – came at America de Cali, and this was followed by three Argentinian championships, two Copa Libertadores trophies and one Intercontinental Cup, all with Boca Juniors. After a brief stint at Italian outfit Perugia, the shot-stopper signed for Besiktas, with whom he won the Turkish League and Cup. Cordoba subsequently joined rival Turkish side Antalyaspor, before returning home to see out his career with Deportivo Cali and then Millonarios.
4. Erika (25) cemented a first-team place in the Brazilian national XI via her fine performances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. The defender had previously participated in three consecutive FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup events, finishing fourth in 2004 and third in 2006, and the last two Olympic Women’s Football Tournaments, claiming a silver medal at Beijing 2008. Erika started out at Santos, and went on to represent California-based Gold Pride in the USA. Following a return to Santos, she signed for Centro Olimpico last season.
5. Neymar (21) is one of Brazil’s fastest-rising stars, and will likely play a crucial role in the Seleção’s attempts to land the upcoming FIFA World Cup on home soil next year. The talented forward first appeared on the international stage at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, and went on to win the South American U-20 Championship in 2011, an accomplishment that led to his inclusion in the Brazilians’ senior squad for the Copa America later that same year, and in the Olympic team for London 2012, where he picked up a silver medal. The precocious striker came through the ranks at Santos, rapidly establishing himself in a team that would go on to enjoy success in three consecutive Campeonato Paulista campaigns, the Brazilian Cup, the Copa Libertadores and the Recopa Sudamericana. Neymar also played in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, where O Peixe lost the final to Barcelona and where he was voted the third best player, after Lionel Messi and Xavi. His remarkable attacking attributes have previously seen him finish top scorer in the South American U-20 Championship and the Copa Libertadores, and earn the FIFA Puskás award for best goal of 2011, the same year he was named Brazilian and South American Player of the Year.
6. Lisa Dahlkvist (26) played a large part in Sweden’s long-awaited return to the forefront of the women’s game at Germany 2011, where they secured third place. The Swedes put in another strong showing at the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament in London the following year, reaching the quarter-finals. In addition, the midfielder competed in the 2009 UEFA Women’s Championship. At club level, Dahlkvist has defended the colours of a handful of Swedish sides, including Umea, Kopparbergs/Goteborg and current club Tyreso, with whom she earned a national league winners’ medal last season.
7. Daniel van Buyten (35) marries the considerable physical presence necessary for any imposing centre-back with an eye for goal that is likely the envy of several of his more attack-minded peers. He played on football’s greatest stage once with Belgium, at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, the Red Devils’ last appearance in the tournament. The robust defender turned professional with Charleroi, before attracting the interest of Standard Liege. Subsequent stints at Marseille, Manchester City and Hamburg were followed by a high-profile transfer to Bayern Munich, where he finally added major honours to his footballing CV in the shape of two Bundesliga titles, two German Cups, two German Super Cups and a German League Cup. Van Buyten’s continental ventures have been less successful, with Bayern losing two of the last three UEFA Champions League finals.
8. Clarence Acuna (38) was a stalwart of the Chilean national team for almost two decades, participating in the 1998 FIFA World Cup France and three consecutive Copa America competitions, the highlight of which was a fourth-placed finish in Paraguay in 1999. The midfield man started out by pulling on the jerseys of O'Higgins and Universidad de Chile, with whom he claimed two national championships and a Chilean Cup, before enjoying spells with Newcastle United in England and Rosario Central in Argentina. The draw of his homeland proved too tempting for Acuna, however, and he would go on to star for Chilean outfits Union Espanola, Deportes Concepcion and La Serena before hanging up his boots.
9. Gordon Strachan (56) is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders to turn out for Scotland in recent times, having impressed on the global stage at both Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986. He began his club career at Dundee, before joining Aberdeen, where he experienced great success, winning two Scottish Premier League titles, three Scottish Cups, the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the ensuing European Super Cup. After heading south to try his luck with Manchester United, he hoisted the FA Cup and was part of the side that finished second in the table in season 1987/88. The tireless performer then put pen to paper with Leeds United, with whom he secured the second division championship, as well as a top-flight crown and Charity Shield two years later. These laudable successes saw the Scot named Footballer of the Year in 1991. A final spell at Coventry City was followed by a move into management, first at Coventry and then at Southampton, whom he inspired to reach the final of the FA Cup. Returning to Scotland, Strachan took the helm at Celtic, inspiring the Glasgow club to three SPL championships, two Scottish League Cups and one Scottish Cup. Having recently been handed the reins of the Scottish national side, he is doubtless hopeful of rescuing a hitherto disappointing 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.