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.
17. Giuseppe Signori (45) is regarded as one of the most talented forwards to emerge from Italy over the past two decades, and he played a key role in helping La Nazionale to reach the Final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™, a match they were unfortunate to lose to Brazil. Having shown early signs of his scoring prowess at a handful of modest Italian outfits, such as Piacenza, Trento and Foggia, he then signed for Lazio, where he would go on to become one of the club’s greatest-ever strikers. Despite not collecting any silverware during his time in Rome, Signori finished top scorer in Serie A three times and in the Italian Cup twice, and was named Footballer of the Year in 1993. After a subsequent spell at Sampdoria, he was transferred to Bologna, where he continued to regularly hit the back of the net. The prolific attacker saw out his career with brief stints at Greek club Iraklis and Hungarian side Sopron.
18. Claude Makelele (40) enjoyed a remarkable career, earning winners’ medals in various European leagues and performing on the greatest stage for France. After having taken part in Les Bleus’ disappointing Korea/Japan 2002 campaign, he was heavily involved in his nation’s impressive march to the Final in Germany four years later, but was unable to prevent a loss to Italy on penalties. The powerful defensive midfielder had also previously appeared in the Olympic Football Tournament at Atlanta 1996. Makelele turned professional at Brest, where he attracted the attention of Nantes, with whom he won the French League. A transfer to Marseille was followed by a move to La Liga, first to Celta Vigo, and then to Real Madrid. His arrival coincided with a trophy-laden period for Los Blancos, as they secured two league championships, two Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Champions League crown, a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup. The French midfield man then joined Chelsea, where he landed two English Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two English League Cups and a Community Shield, before returning to France to sign for Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he lifted the Coupe de France. He is currently Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach at PSG.
19. Enzo Scifo (47) played at four FIFA World Cups in a row with Belgium, from Mexico 1986 to France 1998, scoring three goals in 17 appearances. His first venture was by far the most successful, as Les Diables Rouges attained a highly unexpected fourth place. He had also previously competed at the 1984 UEFA European Championship, the same season he was voted Belgian Footballer of the Year. As a crucial component of a strong Anderlecht side, Scifo won three domestic league titles and participated in the Brussels club’s UEFA Cup final loss to Tottenham Hotspur. The gifted midfielder then departed for Inter Milan, before going on to ply his trade for Bordeaux, Auxerre and Torino, where he hoisted the Italian Cup but ended up on the losing side in another UEFA Cup final. He put pen to paper with Monaco, earning a French league winners’ medal in his final campaign with the principality team, prior to returning to Anderlecht, where he inspired his team-mates to Belgian Championship glory once again. A final spell at Charleroi was followed by a move into coaching, with first Excelsior Mouscron and then Mons benefiting from his vast experience.
20. Jari Litmanen (42) may not ever have had the opportunity to star at a major international tournament with Finland, but that did not prevent him from becoming one of the most feared and respected attacking midfielders in Europe. He made his name at Ajax, claiming four Dutch League crowns, three Dutch Cups, three Dutch Super Cups, the UEFA Champions League, a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup in the process. Following a season and a half with Barcelona, the playmaker signed for Liverpool, where he held aloft the FA Cup, English League Cup, Community Shield, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. During a varied career, he also turned out for Hansa Rostock, Malmo and Fulham, as well as Finnish outfits Lahti, MyPa 47 and HJK Helsinki, with whom he finished on a high by winning the league and cup double. Litmanen was named Finnish Footballer of the Year no fewer than nine times, while he also picked up the equivalent Dutch accolade on one occasion during his time in the Netherlands. His ability to bag crucial goals from midfield saw him finish top scorer in the Dutch League and in the Champions League, and he remains part of an elite group of players to have netted over 100 times in an Ajax jersey.
21. Georgios Samaras (28) has been part of the Greek national set-up for many years now, having taken part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the European Championships of 2008 and 2012. The rangy front man rose to prominence at Eredivisie side Heerenveen, where his performances piqued the interest of Manchester City. A move north to Scottish giants Celtic ensued, as did two SPL titles, a Scottish Cup and a Scottish League Cup.
22. Hakan Yakin (36) helped Switzerland to renew their acquaintance with the FIFA World Cup, at Germany 2006, after a twelve-year absence from the prestigious tournament, and to follow that success up with a second consecutive appearance in 2010. At the European Championships of 2004 and 2008, he demonstrated the full extent of his talents, scoring three goals, two of which enabled the Helvetians to inflict a surprise defeat on Portugal. Yakin has donned the colours of eleven different clubs during his career, including seven in his homeland, namely Concordia Basel, Grasshopper Zurich, St Gallen, Young Boys, Lucerne, Basel – where he tasted victory in the Swiss League and two Swiss Cups – and current employers Bellinzona. Outside Switzerland, the dynamic midfielder has placed his skills at the disposal of PSG, Stuttgart, Qatari heavyweights Al Gharafa and Galatasaray, with whom he emerged victorious in the Turkish Cup final. The former international has twice won the Swiss Footballer of the Year award and once finished top of the Swiss scoring charts.
23. Hassan Gabsi (39) represented Tunisia at Korea/Japan 2002 and at three successive CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, as well as at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The attack-minded right-footer started out at Esperance de Tunis, winning three Tunisian Championships, two Tunisian Cups, the CAF Cup and the African Cup Winners’ Cup. In 2001, Gabsi exported his skills to Italy, where he enjoyed a two-season stint with Genoa.