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.
31. Eddie Johnson (29) is one of the American national team’s most experienced front men, having previously taken part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. Currently involved in the Stars and Stripes’ quest to reach Brazil 2014, he also played at the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007, emerging victorious in the latter competition. At the outset of his career, he participated in the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, before finishing as top scorer at the U-20 equivalent in the UAE two years later. At club level, the pacey striker started out in the MLS with FC Dallas and then Kansas City Wizards, before moving to English outfit Fulham. Following loan spells at Cardiff City, Aris (Greece) and Preston North End, he returned to the USA to join Seattle Sounders last season. Johnson has won the MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award on two occasions, in 2007 and 2012.
1. Clarence Seedorf (37) is one of the most successful footballers to emerge from the Netherlands, having amassed a host of medals and awards during his career. He represented the Oranje at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and at three UEFA European Championships in a row between 1996 and 2004. The athletic midfielder came through the ranks at Ajax, establishing himself in the senior XI and helping the club to win two Dutch League titles, one Dutch Cup, two Dutch Super Cups and a UEFA Champions League crown. He then signed for Sampdoria, where his strong performances attracted the interest of Real Madrid. The Dutchman significantly expanded his footballing CV in the Spanish capital, securing a Liga championship, a Spanish Super Cup, a UEFA Champions League title and an Intercontinental Cup. A subsequent transfer to Inter Milan was followed by a move to city rivals AC Milan, where Seedorf would spend a highly productive ten years, claiming two Serie A titles, an Italian Cup, two Italian Super Cups, two further UEFA Champions League titles and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup, a tournament at which he finished just behind Kaka in the voting for the adidas Golden Ball award. At the start of this season, he surprised many across the world of football by putting pen to paper with Brazilian side Botafogo, with whom he lifted the Guanabara Cup in mid-March.
2. Teddy Sheringham (47) was instrumental in Manchester United’s amazing last-gasp comeback against Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, scoring the equalising goal before heading the ball down to team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who secured a dramatic victory for the Red Devils. Sheringham’s time at Old Trafford coincided with a golden era for United, as they also landed three Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a Charity Shield and an Intercontinental Cup over a four-year period. The skilful striker won second division titles with Millwall and Swedish outfit Djurgardens, and also enjoyed spells at Aldershot Town, Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur, where he finished as Premier League top goalscorer, before he headed north to Manchester. After leaving United, he re-signed for Tottenham, before going on to play for Portsmouth, West Ham, with whom he reached the FA Cup final, and Colchester United. On the international stage, he donned an England jersey at UEFA EURO 1996 and at two FIFA World Cups, in 1998 and 2002. Sheringham was named English Footballer of the Year in 2001.
3. Stephanie Cox (27) competed at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ with the United States, losing out in the final, and at the 2007 tournament in China, where she had to content herself with a third-place finish. The solid defender also earned a gold medal at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. In her youth, she appeared at two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup tournaments (Thailand 2004 and Russia 2006), finishing third and fourth respectively. In terms of domestic football, Cox starred for Los Angeles Sol and Boston Breakers, before committing herself to Seattle Sounders at the start of the season.
4. Emerson (37) made a significant contribution to the Brazilian national side, appearing at France 1998 and Germany 2006. He also held aloft the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 1999 Copa America. Having turned professional at Gremio, he picked up winners’ medals in the Brazilian League, Brazilian Cup (twice), Rio Grande do Sul State Championship (twice), Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana. He gained his first taste of European football at Bayern Leverkusen, prior to joining Roma, with whom he attained the Serie A title and the Italian Super Cup. A move to Juventus saw the combative defensive midfielder enjoy two Italian League triumphs, although one of those was later revoked due to the Calciopoli affair. Emerson tried his luck with Real Madrid, securing a Spanish Championship ten months later, before being transferred to AC Milan, where he hoisted the UEFA Super Cup and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. He then returned to his homeland to see out his career with Santos.
5. Thomas Hitzlsperger (31) was a member of the Germany squads that earned third place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, and that lost the final of EURO 2008. As a youngster, the central midfielder played at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2004 UEFA European U-21 Championship. Having come through the ranks at English side Aston Villa, he signed for Stuttgart, where he claimed the Bundesliga title. Hitzlsperger has gone on to wear the colours of Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and Everton, the club he joined in October 2012.
6. Diana Matheson (29) helped Canada to emerge as a true force in the female game, participating in the last three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. At USA 2003, she and her team-mates finished fourth in what was the Canucks’ maiden appearance at the prestigious event. The speedy midfielder has also enjoyed Olympic success, reaching the quarter-finals at Beijing 2008 and winning a bronze medal at London 2012. Matheson turned out for Toronto Inferno and Ottawa Fury in Canada, and for LSK Kvinner in Norway. She recently signed a contract with Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League.