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.
8. Falcao (37) is regarded as a futsal legend, having enjoyed a hugely successful career at club and international level, notably starring in the last four FIFA Futsal World Cups. The Brazilian forward finished second in 2000 and third in 2004, capping off a fine tournament by winning the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe awards. He finally earned a winners’ medal with A Seleção in 2008 – as well as a second adidas Golden Ball. He repeated the feat again in 2012.
9. Sokratis Papastathopoulos (26) has developed into one of Europe’s top defenders over the past few seasons. He made two appearances for Greece at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and is currently preparing to compete at Brazil 2014, after having played a critical role in his country’s successful qualifying campaign. The imposing centre-back previously took part in UEFA EURO 2012, as well as the 2007 UEFA European U-19 Championship, where the Greeks reached the final. He made his professional debut at AEK Athens, before moving to Genoa and then AC Milan, where he claimed the Italian Serie A title. Strong performances during a subsequent loan period with Werder Bremen led to him signing a permanent deal with the club from north Germany. Papastathopoulos’ composed defensive displays attracted the attention of Borussia Dortmund, with whom he has since hoisted the German Super Cup, finished second in the Bundesliga and lost the German DFB-Pokal final to Bayern Munich.
10. Carlo Ancelotti (55) has enjoyed a fantastic year at the helm of Real Madrid. After enduring a difficult start, the experienced tactician steered Los Blancos to Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League glory, becoming one of the few coaches to win the latter-named trophy with more than one club. After taking the reins of Reggiana, Parma and Juventus, the astute Italian guided AC Milan to success in Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Italian Super Cup, the UEFA Champions League (twice), the UEFA Super Cup (twice) and the FIFA Club World Cup. He then bagged an English Premier League title, FA Cup and FA Community Shield with Chelsea, before clinching the French Ligue 1 Championship with Paris Saint-Germain. His playing career was equally fruitful, a transfer from Parma to Roma triggering a trophy haul that included an Italian League title and four Italian Cups. A move to AC Milan saw the determined midfielder secure two further Serie A crowns, a Supercoppa Italiana, two European Cups, two European Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. At international level, Ancelotti finished third at the 1990 World Cup in Italy and reached the semi-finals of EURO 1988.
11. Ying Liu (40) was part of the Chinese XI that attained the final of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, her country’s most successful showing at the illustrious contest to date. In addition, she participated in the following edition of the tournament in 2003 and in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments at Atlanta 1996, where she won a silver medal, and at Sydney 2000.
12. Mauricio Isla (26) represented Chile at South Africa 2010 and the 2011 Copa America, and he was a crucial component in La Roja’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. The right-sided South American previously reached the semi-finals of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. A product of Universidad Catolica’s youth academy, Isla turned professional at Udinese, where he performed consistently well for five seasons, persuading Juventus to acquire his services in the summer of 2012. Since his arrival in Turin, he has captured two Serie A titles and two Italian Super Cups.
13. Keisuke Honda (26) recently signed for AC Milan, realising a childhood dream of playing for a major European club. The talented attacking midfielder appeared at South Africa 2010 for Japan, scoring two goals, and should be one of the Samurai Blue’s key players at Brazil 2014, if his high-quality displays at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup are anything to go by. He also starred at the 2005 U-20 World Cup, the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament and the 2011 Asian Cup, where the Japanese emerged victorious. Honda started out at Nagoya Grampus, before joining VVV-Venlo, with whom he won the Dutch second division. The skilful playmaker then put pen to paper with CSKA Moscow, where he scooped a Russian League title, two Russian Cups and a Russian Super Cup.
14. Mouhcine Iajour (29) has had a year to remember, advancing to the final of the 2013 Club World Cup with Raja Casablanca and finishing third in the voting for the adidas Golden Ball award. The bustling striker began his career with Raja, prevailing in the Arab Champions League. He went on to defend the colours of Swiss outfit Chiasso, Belgian side Charleroi and Wydad Casablanca. In 2012, Iajour returned to Raja, adding a Moroccan League Championship to his footballing CV soon after.