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.
14. Martin Montoya (22) has succeeded in breaking into the Barcelona first team over the past couple of years, after coming through the ranks at the Catalan club. The defender earned winners’ medals in the Spanish League and Copa del Rey during that same period. On the international stage, he played a key role in Spain’s UEFA European U-21 Championship triumph in 2011, and competed in two matches at the Olympic Football Tournament in London last summer.
15. Seigo Narazaki (37) represented the Japanese national side at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002™, and was part of the squads that travelled to France 1998, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. The Asian goalkeeper also participated in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2000 Olympic Football Tournament and the 1999 Copa America, as well as in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, a trophy he had the privilege of holding aloft. The athletic shot-stopper made his name at Yokohama Flugels, where he lifted the Emperor’s Cup, before signing for Nagoya Grampus, with whom he secured the J.League title, the Japanese Super Cup and a further Emperor’s Cup. Narazaki was voted J.League Player of the Year in 2010, and has been named in the division’s Team of the Year on six occasions.
16. Taye Taiwo (28) has developed into one of the most reliable left-backs in Europe, having initially risen to prominence at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he scored two goals, propelled Nigeria to the final, and finished third in the voting for the adidas Golden Ball award. After being promoted to his country’s senior XI, he took part in four consecutive CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The full-back turned professional at Nigerian outfit Gabros International, prior to moving to Lobi Stars. In 2005, he was transferred to Marseille, where he claimed the French League title, two French League Cups, the Trophee des Champions and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. After joining AC Milan, Taiwo won the Italian Super Cup, but as his playing time in Lombardy was limited, he embarked on loan spells with Queens Park Rangers and then Dynamo Kiev.
17. Jodi-Ann Robinson (24) appeared at two FIFA Women’s World Cup™ events with Canada, namely China 2007 and Germany 2011, as well as at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and at the 2004 and 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. The incisive midfielder began her career at Vancouver Whitecaps, before joining West Florida Argonauts. Robinson currently wears the colours of Western New York Flash in the newly established National Women’s Soccer League.
18. Maurice Edu (27) was part of the USA squad that competed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and finished second to Mexico at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Earlier in his career, he played at the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament, and is currently involved in the Stars and Stripes’ eventful qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014™. After showing great promise at Toronto FC, the combative defensive midfielder put pen to paper with Scottish giants Rangers, when he won three SPL titles and two Scottish League Cups. Following a brief stint at Stoke City, Edu joined Turkish outfit Bursaspor at the turn of the year. We also have to wish Simone Farina (31) all the very best on this day. Now retired, the former Roma trainee was approached to influence the outcome of a Cesena-Gubbio match in 2012. He reported the incident, which led to multiple arrests. He also received a special award for his efforts from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter at the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala and now works for Aston Villa as a community coach.
19. Valon Behrami (28) turned out for Switzerland at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, as well as at UEFA EURO 2008. The energetic midfielder currently has his sights set on helping the Helvetians qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He first plied his trade with a handful of modest Swiss outfits – Stabio, Chiasso and Lugano – before exporting his skills to Genoa, then in Serie B, and Verona. His strong performances attracted the interest of Lazio, where he spent three Serie A campaigns. Behrami then packed his bags for England, putting in impressive displays for West Ham United for another three terms. After a season with Fiorentina, the Swiss midfield man signed for Napoli in July 2012.
20. Aleksandr Zavarov (52) was one of the former Soviet Union’s most outstanding players, showcasing his skills at two FIFA World Cups (Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990), playing in seven matches and scoring two goals in total. Sandwiched in between those two competitions, he picked up a runners-up medal at UEFA EURO 1988, after the USSR were defeated by the Netherlands in Munich. The Ukrainian midfielder was a product of Zarja Lugansk’s youth system, but it was at SKA Rostov and Dynamo Kiev that he collected his first pieces of silverware, attaining the Soviet Cup with the former, and the Soviet League title, two Soviet Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup – a tournament in which he finished top scorer – with the latter. In addition, he was named Soviet and Ukrainian Footballer of the Year in 1986. The technically gifted performer was then involved in a high-profile transfer to Juventus, with whom he lifted the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup. The latter part of Zavarov’s career was spent in France, where he played for Nancy and Saint-Dizier, an amateur club that offered him his first coaching job following his retirement as a player. He went on to take the reins at Swiss side FC Wil, Kazakh outfit Astana, and Arsenal Kiev.