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.
30. Fredy Guarin (27) is on the verge of realising his dream of playing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ with Colombia, who currently look strong candidates to qualify. The talented midfielder also represented Los Cafeteros at the 2011 Copa America, as well as at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup and at two FIFA U-20 World Cups (in 2003 and 2005). A product of Envigado’s youth set-up, Guarin had a brief spell at Boca Juniors, before being sent out on loan to Saint-Etienne. Guarin then signed for Porto, winning three Portuguese League titles, three Portuguese Cups, three Portuguese Super Cups and the UEFA Europa League with the Lisbon giants. He moved to Inter Milan in January 2012.
1. Rigobert Song (37) made his mark on the history of Cameroonian and African football. He took part in four FIFA World Cup™ tournaments with Les Lions Indomptables (1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010), two FIFA Confederations Cups (2001 and 2003) and the FIFA U-20 World Cup (1993). At continental level, he participated in eight CAF Africa Cup of Nations competitions, winning two of them. The tireless defender started out at Tonnerre de Yaounde in his homeland, prior to joining Metz, with whom he lifted the French League Cup. Stints at Salernitana, Liverpool, West Ham and Cologne followed, but the pull of French football proved too strong, and he signed for Lens in 2002. Song subsequently played in Turkey, first with Galatasaray, where he won two league titles and the national cup, and then with Trabzonspor, with whom he once again held aloft the Turkish Cup.
2. Pak Nam Chol (28) was instrumental in Korea DPR’s grand return to the FIFA World Cup in 2010. While in South Africa, he made three appearances, locking horns with Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and Portugal. The attack-minded performer also helped his nation to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Pak spent the majority of his club career with North Korean outfit April 25, claiming three league titles, but eventually moved abroad to put pen to paper with Thai side Muangthong United, with whom he secured the national championship last season. He and his team-mates are still on course to repeat the feat this season, which would give them another shot at AFC Champions League glory next year.
3. Sandra Smisek (36) has played a key role in the development of women’s football in Germany. As a striker for the national team, she competed in three FIFA Women’s World Cup™ events, earning second spot in 1995 and hoisting the coveted trophy in 2003 and 2007. She also gained a bronze medal at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament and won the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2001 and 2005, confirming the Germans’ dominance at continental level in the process. Smisek started out at FSV Frankfurt, where she landed two German Championships, two German Cups and two German Super Cups. She spent three seasons with Duisburg, but then returned to her former employers. Her transfer to FFC Frankfurt constituted a turning point in her career, as she went on to add various honours to her footballing CV, including two UEFA Women’s Champions League titles. She finished top scorer at the 2001 European Women’s Championship and during the 1995/96 German League season.
4. Emile Mpenza (35) is regarded as one of the greatest attackers in the history of Belgian football. He propelled his country to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, and played in all three of Les Diables Rouges’ matches in the group stage. The powerful striker is also fondly remembered in his homeland for the winning goal that saw off Sweden in the opening match of UEFA EURO 2000, the only victory recorded by the co-hosts of the tournament. After coming through the ranks at Kortrijk, Mpenza pulled on the jerseys of Mouscron, Standard Liege and Schalke 04, where he hoisted the German Cup. A move to Hamburg saw him win the UEFA Intertoto Cup, after which he enjoyed a variety of diverse footballing experiences, turning out for Al Rayyan (Qatar), Manchester City, Plymouth Argyle (England), Sion (Switzerland) and Neftchi Baku (Azerbaijan), with whom he claimed a league title.
5. Alberto Gilardino (31) possesses a collection of medals that most footballers can only dream about, the most treasured of which was earned in 2006 when he lifted the FIFA World Cup with Italy. The prolific striker also took part in the 2009 and 2013 FIFA Confederations Cups, and will attempt to seal third place at the latter tournament today. Earlier in his career, he emerged victorious at the UEFA European U-21 Championship in 2004, where he finished top scorer. In 2004, he attained a bronze medal at the Olympic Football Tournament in Athens. Gilardino started off at Piacenza, before committing himself to Hellas Verona. It was at Parma, however, that he truly made a name for himself, piquing the interest of AC Milan in the process. While with I Rossoneri, he collected a UEFA Champions League title, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. Following subsequent spells with Fiorentina and Genoa, he was loaned out to Bologna last season.
6. Leo (38) has represented Brazil at two FIFA Confederations Cups, capturing the trophy in 2005. Although the left-back began his club career at Americano, Uniao Sao Jao and Palmeiras, it was in a Santos shirt that he excelled. He won a host of honours with O Peixe, including two Brazilian League titles, three Campeonato Paulista crowns, a Brazilian Cup, a Copa Libertadores, and a Recopa Sudamericana. After four campaigns with Benfica, Leo returned to Santos in 2009.