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.
28. Mathieu Valbuena (30) represented France at two FIFA World Cup™ tournaments, at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014. The talented winger started out at amateur club Libourne, before signing for Marseille in 2006. In eight years in the south of France, he established himself as one of the team’s key components, winning a Ligue 1 title, three French League Cups and two Trophees des champions. At the start of this current season, Valbuena put pen to paper with Dynamo Moscow.
29. Per Mertesacker (30) recently brought down the curtain on his international career in style by lifting the World Cup with Germany. The towering defender had previously secured third place at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, as well as at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. In addition, he reached the final of UEFA EURO 2008. The Hannover-born centre-back started out at his home-town club, but it was at Werder Bremen that he made his name, lifting the German Cup and Super Cup and earning runners-up slots in the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup. Mertesacker then joined Arsenal, where he captured the FA Cup and FA Community Shield.
30. Cristian Zapata (28) helped Columbia return to the global stage at Brazil 2014, his country’s first World Cup appearance since 1998. At the tournament proper, Los Cafeteros reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to the hosts. As a younger man, the robust centre-half starred at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where the Colombians finished fourth. He also claimed the 2005 South American Youth Championship. At club level, Zapata clinched the Colombian League with Deportivo Cali, prior to exporting his skills to Europe, where he has since turned out for Udinese, Villarreal and AC Milan.
1. Nico Claesen (52) played for Belgium at Mexico 1986, where Les Diables Rouges finished fourth, and Italy 1990, where he only made one appearance, in the Round-of-16 defeat by England. The incisive forward also competed at EURO 1984. Claesen pulled on the jerseys of numerous top-flight sides in Europe, including Standard Liege, Stuttgart, Tottenham Hotspur and Antwerp, with whom he held aloft the Belgian Cup.
2. Carlos Bonet (37) defended the colours of Paraguay at three successive World Cups, Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, and at the 2007 Copa America. The right winger began his career at Asuncion-based Sol de America, where his fine performances landed him a move to Argentinian outfit Atletico de Rafaela. A return to his homeland saw the South American wide man join Libertad, where he sealed four Paraguayan Championships. He later tried his luck at Cruz Azul, Olimpia and current club Cerro Porteno, with whom he enjoyed further league success last season.
3. Fred (31) took part in Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014 with the Seleção, but could not prevent his team from suffering premature exits in both competitions. The clinical striker had better luck at the 2013 Confederations Cup, emerging victorious from the contest and scoring five goals in the process. He also participated in the 2007 and 2011 Copa America tournaments. After turning professional at America Mineiro, he moved to Cruzeiro and then Lyon, where he bagged three French League titles and a French Cup. In 2012, Fred committed himself to Fluminense, and has since triumphed in two Brazilian Serie A campaigns with the Rio de Janeiro club.
4. Caitlin Munoz (31) appeared for Australia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007™, where she and her team-mates were eliminated by Brazil in the quarter-finals. She also took part in the 2002 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The striker represented Pali Blues, Canberra United, and Los Angeles Strikers, before returning to Canberra in 2012.