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.
1. Samuel Inkoom (25) starred for Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, helping the Black Stars to overcome USA in the Round of 16 before suffering an unfortunate defeat to Uruguay in the quarter-finals. The tireless full-back also played in the Ghanaians’ successful qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014, and will likely be involved in the prestigious tournament this summer. In 2009, he triumphed in the FIFA U-20 World Cup and African Youth Championship. After stepping up to the senior side, he reached the final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations the following year, prior to finishing fourth in 2012. The right-sided African started out in his homeland with Sekondi Hasaacas and Asante Kotoko, but it was at Basel that he made his name, playing a key role in the Swiss outfit’s league and cup double-winning campaign of 2010. Inkoom then moved to Ukraine to represent Dnipro, who recently sent him out on loan to Bastia and Greek club Platanias.
2. Freddy Adu (25) appeared for United States at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup, at three FIFA U-20 World Cups (2003, 2005 and 2007), and at the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. While he played a part in the Stars and Stripes’ qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010, the powerful forward was not selected for Bob Bradley’s final squad. He did, however, compete in two CONCACAF Gold Cups, losing to Mexico in the final on both occasions, in 2009 and 2011. At club level, the American front man brandished the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup with D.C. United and enjoyed a brief but promising spell with Real Salt Lake, putting in performances that persuaded Benfica to acquire his services in 2007. After loan spells at Monaco, Belenenses, Aris and Caykur Rizespor, Adu returned to the United States to defend the colours of Philadelphia Union. In 2013, he signed for Brazilian side Bahia.
3. Kyoko Yano (30) can look back with pride on her involvement in Japan’s last three FIFA Women’s World Cup ventures, namely USA 2003, China 2007 and Germany 2011, the Asians lifting the illustrious trophy at the latter edition. The solid defender also participated in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments of 2004, 2008 and 2012, earning a silver medal at the most recent event in London. In addition, she claimed a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games. Yano played for Kanagawa University before joining Urawa Reds in 2007, with whom she clinched the Japanese L. League title two years later.
4. Lukas Podolski (29) has battled with injuries over the past 12 months, but he enjoyed a memorable end to the season, helping Arsenal to hoist the FA Cup and finish fourth in the English Premier League, a position that opened the gates to the UEFA Champions League. The sprightly attacker also contributed towards Germany’s march towards the 2014 World Cup, and is expected to provide a significant goal threat for his country in Brazil. He was part of the German sides that finished third in 2006 and 2010, and was named Best Young Player at the former tournament. The left-footed striker reached the semi-finals of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and took part in the last three UEFA EUROs with Die Nationalelf, attaining the final in 2008 and the last four in 2012. Podolski began his career with Cologne, where he sealed the German second division title and topped the league scoring charts, feats that piqued the interest of Bayern Munich, who brought him to Bavaria in 2006. His time with Bayern was highly fruitful, as a Bundesliga crown, DFB-Pokal and DFB-Ligapokal soon ensued. He retraced his steps in 2009, re-signing for Cologne and spending three seasons at RheinEnergieStadion, prior to putting pen to paper with Arsenal.
5. Fernando Meira (36) helped Portugal to return to the international spotlight, he and his squad-mates roaring to the semi-finals at Germany 2006, where he played in all seven of his nation’s matches. The cultured defender also appeared at UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A product of the youth academy of Vitoria Guimaraes, he initially gained promotion to the club's senior team, where his displays tempted Benfica to offer him a contract. A subsequent big-money transfer to Stuttgart saw the Portuguese centre-back bag a Bundesliga winners’ medal and reach two national cup finals. Meira then tried his luck with Galatasaray, where he got his hands on the Turkish Super Cup, before scooping the Russian League, Cup and Super Cup with Zenit St. Petersburg. He enjoyed a brief swansong with Real Zaragoza, hanging up his boots soon after.
6. Becky Sauerbrunn (29) had the privilege of obtaining a gold medal for the USA at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012, after having been part of the squad that lost to Japan in the Final of Germany 2011. The confident defender had previously finished third at the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in 2004. Sauerbrunn turned professional at Boston Renegades, and would go on to pull on the jerseys of Richmond Kickers Destiny, Washington Freedom, Norwegian outfit Roa IL, magicJack, D.C. United and Kansas City.
7. Zlatko Yankov (48) was a crucial component in the Bulgarian team that took the world by storm at USA 1994, where they finished fourth, after losing a closely contested semi-final clash with Italy. The composed defensive midfielder also took part in EURO 1996 and France 1998, after having starred at the 1985 U-20 World Cup during the previous decade. His club career was nomadic, involving varied stop-offs such as Turkey – where he plied his trade for Besiktas, Adanaspor, Vanspor and Genclerbirligi – and Spain, as well as Germany. Yankov also represented a handful of clubs in his native land, including Lokomotiv Sofia, Chernomorets Burgas, Naftex Burgas and Levski Sofia, with whom he nabbed two Bulgarian League titles and two Bulgarian Cups. The ex-international moved into coaching at the turn of the year, taking the reins at Neftochimic Burgas.