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.
19. Pretinha (38) left a significant imprint on the history of women’s football by participating in the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 1991 with Brazil, and then at the three tournaments that followed, namely Sweden 1995, USA 1999 and China 2007. The forward helped her team-mates to finish third in 1999 and second in 2007. She also took part in the first four Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments, earning silver medals in 2004 and 2008. At club level, Pretinha has donned the jerseys of Vasco da Gama, Washington Freedom, San Jose CyberRays, Japanese side Kobe Leonessa and Korean outfit Goyang Daekyo.
20. Petr Cech (31) has enjoyed an incredible year, the two highlights of which were undoubtedly playing a key role in Chelsea’s unexpected UEFA Champions League success at the culmination of last season and their recent UEFA Europa League triumph over Benfica. The imposing Czech goalkeeper represented Viktoria Plzen, Chmel Blsany and Sparta Prague in his homeland, before signing for Rennes, where his fine performances attracted the interest of Chelsea. In nine campaigns at Stamford Bridge, the reliable shot-stopper has won three English Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two English League cups, two Community Shields, and the aforementioned European trophies. As far as individual accolades are concerned, he has been named Czech Footballer of the Year six times in his career, five of which have come in the last five years. On the international stage, Cech was part of the Czech Republic side that qualified for a first-ever FIFA World Cup™, at Germany 2006, as well as for the UEFA European Championships of 2004, 2008 and 2012. As a younger man, he propelled the Czechs to the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup, prior to securing the UEFA European U-21 Championship title.
21. Francois Omam-Biyik (47) is fondly remembered by Cameroon fans for his efforts and goals during the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy, in which the African nation not only claimed a surprise opening-day victory over defending champions Argentina, but also went on a remarkable run to the quarter-finals. In addition, the energetic striker appeared at USA 1994 and France 1998 with Les Lions Indomptables, scoring two goals in eleven matches overall, as well as at two CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, in 1992 and 1996. Omam-Biyik played for an array of clubs on three different continents during his career. After starting out at Cameroonian outfit Canon de Yaounde, he exported his skills to France, where he turned out for Laval, Rennes, Cannes, Marseille and Lens. He then moved to Club America in Mexico, before returning to Europe to join Sampdoria. The African attacker had a final spell at modest French side Chateauroux, where he decided to hang up his boots. He was recently appointed coach of Togolese club Gomido de Kpalime.
22. Tranquillo Barnetta (28) is one of the most dangerous wingers presently playing the game, as his opposite numbers in domestic and international football have often found out to their cost. He played for Switzerland at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he hit the back of the net in a group match versus Togo. He was also part of the Swiss squads that travelled to the 2008 UEFA European Championship and to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. During his adolescence, the pacey St Gallen native landed the 2002 UEFA U-17 European Championship, before helping his country to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005. After catching the eye in the Swiss Super League, he secured a move to the German Bundesliga, where he played for Hannover and Bayer Leverkusen. He put pen to paper with Schalke at the beginning of this season.
23. Hugo Almeida (29) has always had a keen eye for goal, as he demonstrated during Portugal’s 7-0 victory versus Korea DPR at South Africa 2010. The bustling centre forward appeared at the UEFA European Championships of 2008 and 2012, as well as at the 2004 Olympic Football Tournament and three successive UEFA European U-21 Championships. Almeida came through the ranks at Porto, and was initially loaned out to Leiria and Boavista. Returning to Os Dragões, he picked up winners’ medals in two Portuguese League campaigns and a Portuguese Cup final. A transfer to Werder Bremen saw the free-scoring front man lift the German Cup and reach the final of the UEFA Cup. He joined Besiktas in 2011, and his goals have since propelled his team-mates to Turkish Cup glory.
24. Vladimir Smicer (40) acquired an iconic status within the Czech football fraternity by being an exemplary ambassador for his country at international and domestic level. In 1996, he inspired the Czech Republic to reach the final of UEFA EURO 1996, against Germany at Wembley Stadium, and he also played at the same tournament in 2000 and 2004. In 1997, the attacking midfielder was part of the Czech XI that finished third at the FIFA Confederations Cup, where his five goals saw him awarded the adidas Silver Shoe. A product of Slavia Prague’s youth academy, he was promoted to the senior team and promptly won three national league titles. After signing for Lens, he added a French League Championship and a Coupe de France to his footballing CV, but it was a subsequent move to Liverpool that would prove the most trophy-laden period of the career, as he captured the FA Cup, two English League Cups, a Community Shield, a UEFA Cup, a UEFA Champions League crown and two UEFA Super Cups with the Anfield side. Smicer joined Bordeaux in the summer of 2005, lifting the French League Cup two years later, prior to enjoying one final spell with his very first club, Slavia Prague.
25. Carlos Bocanegra (34) defended the colours of the United States national team at the FIFA World Cups of 2006 and 2010 and the FIFA Confederations Cups of 2003 and 2009, reaching the final at the latter event. In addition, the robust centre-back held aloft the CONCACAF Gold Cup on two occasions, as well as reaching the final of the continental event in 2011. Earlier in his career, he took part in the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Bocanegra started off at Chicago Fire, where he bagged two US Open Cups, before going on to star for Fulham, Rennes, Saint-Etienne and Rangers. This season, he was loaned out to Spanish outfit Racing Santander by the former Scottish champions.