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.
11. Cristian Tello (22) has enjoyed a thoroughly memorable year, having earned winners’ medals at the UEFA European U-21 Championship with Spain and in La Liga with Barcelona. He had already appeared for La Roja at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 and at the 2012 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. The attack-minded Catalan had also previously lifted the Copa del Rey with Barça, with whom he signed a new contract in December 2012.
12. Jesper Gronkjaer (36) was part of the Denmark side that took part in the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments of 2002 and 2010, as well as in the UEFA European Championships of 2000 and 2004. After starting out at Aalborg, the speedy winger joined Ajax, where he hoisted the Dutch Cup. He then packed his bags for England, turning out for Chelsea and then Birmingham City. Subsequent spells at Atletico Madrid and Stuttgart were followed by a return to Denmark, where he inspired FC Copenhagen to four league championships and a national cup. Gronkjaer was named the Danish Superliga Player of the Year in 2007.
13. Alan Shearer (43) is regarded as one of the greatest strikers English football has produced in modern times. With England, he participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup France and three European Championships in a row, scoring five goals at the 1996 event on home soil to top the scoring charts. The powerful front man enjoyed success at Le Tournoi de France in 1997, where his nation finished ahead of France, Brazil and Italy. After coming through the ranks at Southampton, he was involved in a high-profile move to Blackburn Rovers, where he won the club’s first English League title in eighty years. He then signed for Newcastle United, with whom he claimed a runners-up spot in the league and reached two FA Cup finals. Shearer finished top goalscorer in the Premier League and UEFA Cup on three and two occasions respectively, and was voted the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year in 1994. After hanging up his boots, he briefly managed Newcastle.
14. Samson Siasia (46) began is career by earning third place with Nigeria at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1985 and helped his nation to qualify for the Olympic Football Tournament at Seoul 1988. The forward then propelled the Super Eagles to a maiden FIFA World Cup qualification at USA 1994, where the Nigerians earned considerable plaudits before exiting to Italy in the Round of 16. That same year, the Lagos-born attacker was named Player of the Tournament at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, a competition in which he had already finished third in 1992. In addition, he played at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1995, where the Africans ended up in fourth place. Siasia pulled on the jerseys of numerous clubs during his career, including Lokeren, Nantes, with whom he won the French League title, Portuguese outfit Tirsense, Austria Vienna, Saudi side Al Hilal and Perth Glory. A move into coaching led to him taking charge of the Nigerian U-20 team, whom he guided to the final of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He then steered the Nigerian Olympic side to the final of Beijing 2008. These successes saw him handed the reins of his country’s senior XI, but he was replaced by current coach Stephen Keshi after less than a year at the helm.
15. Carlos Roa (44) is fondly remembered by Argentina supporters for his fine performances between the sticks at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France. At club level, he held aloft the Supercopa Sudamericana with Racing Club and the Copa CONMEBOL with Lanus. The commanding goalkeeper subsequently exported his skills to Europe, where his displays spurred Mallorca to Spanish Super Cup success, as well as to the final of both the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Cup winners’ Cup. In 1998, Roa won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, an award that recognises the top goalkeeper in La Liga. The Argentinian custodian was later transferred to Albacete, prior to returning to his homeland to represent Olimpo. After retiring from the game, he fulfilled the role of goalkeeping coach at River Plate.
16. Joleon Lescott (31) has established himself as one of England’s most competent defenders in recent years, a status which led to his inclusion in the Three Lions’ squad for UEFA EURO 2012, where he found the net against France. The robust centre-back started out at Wolverhampton Wanderers, with whom he landed a second division championship, before spending three campaigns with Everton. Lescott put pen to paper with Manchester City in 2009, and went on to secure an FA Cup and a Premier League crown.
17. William Gallas (36) won the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup and reached the Final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany with France. He also endured significantly more disappointing experiences with Les Bleus, such as at South Africa 2010 and at the European Championships of 2004 and 2008. The imposing centre-half turned professional at Caen, where he clinched the French second division championship and earned a move to Marseille. After committing himself to Chelsea, he scooped two English Premier League titles, an English League Cup and a Community Shield. Gallas went on to defend the colours of two other London clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.