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.
7. Alberto Aquilani (29) will likely feel a sense of satisfaction as he blows out his candles this year, following his recent participation in Italy’s FIFA Confederations Cup campaign, during which he played in all five matches and helped his nation to secure third place. The attacking midfielder had previously competed at UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2003 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, and is now likely to concentrate his efforts on propelling La Nazionale to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. A product of Roma’s youth academy, following a loan spell at Trieste, Aquilani established himself in the capital club’s senior team, with whom he captured two Italian Cups and an Italian Super Cup. Then came a big-money switch to Liverpool, though he struggled to establish a slot in the side. Loaned out again, first to Juventus and then to AC Milan, the Italian playmaker committed himself to Fiorentina at the beginning of last season.
8. Robbie Keane (33) was instrumental in Ireland’s grand return to the FIFA World Cup at Korea/Japan 2002, following an absence of eight years. At the tournament proper, the prolific striker scored three goals in four matches, before losing out on penalties to Spain in the Round of 16. Ten years later, he led the Irish to EURO 2012. As a younger player, the forward won the 1998 European U-19 Championship, a victory that enabled him and his team-mates to participate in the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Keane started his club career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, before turning out for Coventry, Inter Milan and Leeds United. However, it was at Tottenham that he arguably enjoyed the peak period of his career, scoring freely and lifting an English League Cup. Stints at Liverpool, Celtic and West Ham were followed by a move across the ocean to American outfit Los Angeles Galaxy, where he has since hoisted two MLS Cups.
9. Ashley Young (28) is coming off the back of a successful season with Manchester United, during which his club wrestled the English title back out of the hands of their great rivals Manchester City. The pacey winger began his career at Watford, before putting pen to paper with Aston Villa. He subsequently moved to Old Trafford, where he has since won a Community Shield to go along with the aforementioned Premier League crown. At international level, he was part of England’s EURO 2012 squad and is currently involved in the Three Lions’ closely contested qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014.
10. Mark Gonzalez (29) will doubtless remember the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the rest of his life, as it was his crucial goal against Switzerland that enabled Chile to advance to the second round, where they lost to Brazil. He also appeared at the 2007 Copa America and is in the process of helping his country qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. The left winger turned professional at Universidad Catolica in his homeland, prior to earning a transfer to Spanish outfit Albacete. Subsequently snapped up by Liverpool, he was soon sent back to La Liga on loan to Real Sociedad, before returning in 2006/07 to help the Reds lift the Community Shield and reach the final of the UEFA Champions League. Gonzalez then enjoyed a productive period in Seville with Real Betis, but after the club’s relegation in 2009, he joined CSKA Moscow. The attack-minded Chilean recently secured a Russian league and cup double with the Koni.
11. Mohamed El Nenny (21) emerged as one of Egyptian football’s brightest hopes over the space of a few months, after inspiring his country to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011 in Colombia, where they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Argentina. He also played at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament 2012, his strong displays earning him a promotion to the senior side, with whom he has recently participated in qualifiers for Brazil 2014. At the start of the season the North African midfielder became a Basel player, establishing a place in the starting XI almost immediately and going on to earn a Swiss league winners’ medal. He also played in the final of the Swiss Cup and was part of the club’s fantastic UEFA Europa League run, which was only ended in the semi-finals by eventual winners Chelsea.
12. Christian Vieri (40) starred at two FIFA World Cups – France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002 – for Italy, notching five goals in five matches and finishing third-top scorer first time around, and four goals in four games in during the second outing. The clinical striker also appeared at EURO 2004. Earlier in his career, he claimed the 1994 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. After proving his goalscoring credentials at Ravenna, Venezia and Atalanta he signed for Juventus, with whom he triumphed in Serie A, the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. In a one-season spell at Lazio he added the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to his footballing CV, before lifting the Italian Cup again, this time with Inter Milan. Vieri played for a host of other clubs during the best part of two decades in the game, including Torino, Pisa, AC Milan, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid and Monaco. He was named Italian Footballer of the Year in 1999 and 2002, and has finished top scorer in both the Italian and Spanish top flights.
13. Zuhair Bakheet (46) is generally regarded as one of the United Arab Emirates’ greatest-ever players, having played a key role in his country sealing a maiden qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. In addition, he represented the UAE at three AFC Nations Cups, reaching the final in 1996, where they lost out to Saudi Arabia, and at five Gulf Cups. Bakheet has spent his entire club career at Al Wasl, where he has collected numerous continental and national honours.