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. Hwang Sunhong (45) performed ably for Korea Republic in numerous major tournaments, including three FIFA World Cups™, during which he got on the scoresheet twice in ten matches. The clinical striker enjoyed a particularly memorable international swansong in 2002, when the South Korean hosts unexpectedly reached the semi-finals. In addition, he took part in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring two goals, and the 1996 Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta, as well as in two AFC Asian Cups, securing second place in 1988, and two CONCACAF Gold Cups. After initially impressing while at Konkuk University, he exported his skills to Europe, playing for Bayer Leverkusen’s reserve side and for lower-league Wuppertaler. The Asian forward subsequently returned to his homeland, where he enjoyed six productive seasons with Pohang Steelers. Over the next five years, he would turn out for Korean outfits Suwon Bluewings and Chunnam Dragons, and Japanese sides Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol. After hanging up his boots, Sunhong moved into coaching, working as an assistant at Chunnam Dragons, before taking charge of Busan I'Park and Pohang Steelers outright.
15. Alou Diarra (32) has established himself as one of France’s best midfielders in recent times, representing his country at two FIFA World Cups, at Germany 2006, where Les Bleus lost in the Final, and at South Africa 2010. Last summer, he participated in UEFA EURO 2012, and previously starred at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2001. The athletic Frenchman turned professional at Louhans-Cuiseaux. His displays with the Ligue 2 team attracted the attention of Bayern Munich, with whom he lifted the Intercontinental Cup, although he remained on the bench during the actual match. After signing for Liverpool, he was loaned out for three successive seasons, to Le Havre, Bastia and then Lens, ultimately sealing a permanent deal with the latter club. A move to Lyon saw the combative midfield man earn a French League winners’ medal, a feat he then repeated with Bordeaux the following campaign, adding a Trophée des Champions for good measure. Diarra then joined Marseille, where he won the French League Cup plus another Champions Trophy. At the start of the 2012-13 season, he put pen to paper with West Ham United, although he was later sent on loan to Rennes during the January transfer window.
16. Gareth Bale (24) enjoyed a marvellous year, picking up several individual accolades for his fine performances, including the PFA Young Player of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards. The pacey Welshman played youth football with Southampton, claiming the Premier Academy League title, before being promoted to the senior side at the age of 16. He then joined Tottenham Hotspur, where he has since developed into one of the Premier League’s most prominent attack-minded players. Twice named Welsh Player of the Year, Bale is currently heavily involved in the qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but his nation’s chances of appearing on Brazilan soil appear extremely slim at this stage.
17. Carlos Alberto (71), the last Seleção captain to hold aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy, at the 1970 FIFA World Cup, is a veritable living legend of the Brazilian game. The elegant full-back wore the colours of Fluminense, Santos, Flamengo, New York Cosmos and California Surf during a long career, before trying his hand at coaching, taking the reins at a host of clubs, including Flamengo, Corinthians, Miami Sharks, Monterrey and Botafogo. Alberto also put players through their paces in the international arena, guiding the Azerbaijan national team and fulfilling the role of assistant coach with Nigeria and Oman.
18. Jan Jalocha (56) can look back with pride at having been part of the Polish squad that finished third at Spain 1982. At club level, he plied his trade for Wisla Krakow and German outfits Augsburg, Bayreuth, Eintracht Trier and VfL Trier, where he brought the curtain down on his career.
19. Pavel Kuka (45) was a member of the Czech XI that surprised the football world by reaching the final of UEFA EURO 1996, a match they lost to Germany via a ‘Golden Goal’. The following year, the free-scoring forward competed at the FIFA Confederations Cup, in which the Czechs finished third. Kuka made his name at Slavia Prague, piquing the interest of Kaiserslautern, with whom he would go on to enjoy German League and Cup glory. He had one-season spells at both Nuremberg and Stuttgart, before seeing out his career back at Slavia.
20. Claudio Reyna (40) is regarded as one of the United States’ greatest players of the past two decades, having distinguished himself at three consecutive FIFA World Cups, in 1998, 2002 and 2006, four CONCACAF Gold Cups, two Olympic Football Tournaments (in 1992 and 1996) and the 1989 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The dominant midfielder started out at Bayer Leverkusen, but embarked on a loan stint at Wolfsburg in 1997. After committing himself to Glasgow giants Rangers, with whom he landed the SPL title and Scottish Cup, Reyna was transferred to Sunderland and then to Manchester City. He joined MLS side New York Red Bulls in 2007, before retiring from the game the following year.