In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names from Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
Jozy Altidore (22) showed exciting glimpses of his potential at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007 in Canada, notching four goals and driving USA on to the quarter-finals, where they eventually lost to Austria. A year later, he made his presence felt at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing, and he was also involved in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 as USA came close to beating Brazil in the showpiece. Altidore returned to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and although he failed to find the net in four matches, he created plenty of space for his team-mates by keeping opposition defenders busy. Technically a Villarreal player, he is currently on loan at AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, having earlier been farmed out to Hull City and Bursaspor to gain more playing time.
Mohamed Aboutrika (33) occupies a special place in Egyptian football history thanks to his sterling service for both the national side and Al Ahly, in addition to his strong sense of fair play and exemplary behaviour away from the pitch. Aboutrika kicked off his career at Al Tersana before catching the attention of Cairo giants Al Ahly, for whom he quickly became a key player. He has won seven consecutive league titles with the Red Devils, as well as two Egyptian Cups, four Egyptian Super Cups and three CAF Champions League crowns, while appearing in several editions of the FIFA Club World Cup and helping his side finish third in the competition with three goals in 2006. At international level, he helped the Pharaohs return to the summit of the African game with a CAF Africa Cup of Nations triumph on home soil in 2006 and a second success in Ghana two years later, when he scored the winner against Cameroon in the final. Aboutrika was again impressive at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009, but he missed out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa after Egypt lost to Algeria in the play-offs. Despite that disappointment, he is widely considered one of the greatest Egyptian and African players of all time
Ali Karimi (33) suggested the prodigious nature of his talents by forcing his way into the Iran team while still just a budding young midfielder. His early promise earned him a place in the side during the 2000 AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon, and he rattled in five goals during the same tournament four years later in China PR as Iran finished the tournament in third place. Voted Asian Footballer of the Year soon afterwards, he sealed a move to Bayern Munich the following year and was soon celebrating a league and cup double in Germany, where he returned to record a second cup success with Schalke last season after signing during the winter. Karimi represented his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and has also turned out for Al Ahli in Dubai, helping the club lift a pair of United Arab Emirate Cups, and Qatar SC. He now plays for the team where it all began for him, Persepolis.
Sergio Batista (49) experienced the joy of winning the FIFA World Cup with Argentina at Mexico 1986. One of the pillars of the team along with a certain Diego Maradona, he came close to repeating the feat in Italy four years later, only for La Albiceleste to fall short against West Germany in the Rome Final. In the club realm, Batista clinched a pair of Argentinian championship titles and the Copa Libertadores with Argentinos Juniors before signing for River Plate, where he added another league crown to his list of honours. Since hanging up his boots, he has switched his focus to coaching and steered Argentina to gold at the 2008 Olympic Games, before taking over from Maradona following La Albiceleste’s exit at the hands of Germany on South African soil. Batista’s spell at the helm proved brief, however, with his reign coming to an end after Argentina tasted defeat in the 2011 Copa America quarter-finals.
Faustino Asprilla (42) made his name at Parma, having joined the Serie A outfit from Colombian side Nacional, where he won a league title and the Copa Interamericana. The striker’s arrival coincided with Parma’s rise to prominence on the Italian and European stage, and together they won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, a triumph crowned against Royal Antwerp at Wembley Stadium. The small-town side then claimed the UEFA Super Cup and pipped Juventus to the UEFA Cup in 1994/95, before Asprilla helped them beat Marseille in the final of the same competition four seasons later. Buoyed by those successes, Asprilla moved to Brazil for stints with Palmeiras and Fluminense, claiming the Brazilian Cup and Rio-Sao Paulo Tournament with the latter outfit. Subsequent transfers took him to Universidad de Chile in Santiago and Argentinian club Estudiantes, where he finally called time on his lengthy career. On the international stage, Asprilla played his part in some memorable matches for Colombia, not least the 5-0 win against Argentina during qualifying for USA 1994, when his side ended their remarkable campaign unbeaten. He appeared at both the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups without finding the net, and helped Colombia grab third spot at the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay.
Fahad Al Mehalel (41) left his mark on some of the most glorious moments in Saudi Arabian football history, including a pair of FIFA World Cup finals appearances. He also represented the Sons of the Desert during all three of the editions of the FIFA Confederations Cup to be held in Saudi Arabia, and fired four goals to propel his country to victory at the 1996 Asian Cup. In the club arena, he plied his trade for Al Shabab, picking up numerous titles along the way.
Enzo Francescoli (50) is one of the most sublime talents ever to take the field for Uruguay. The attacking midfielder won a trio of Copa America titles with La Celeste and graced the FIFA World Cup at Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990, while his two spells with River Plate brought five league titles and three coronations as leading scorer in the top flight, in addition to the Copa Libertadores and Supercopa Sudamericana. In Europe, Francescoli won the French title with Marseille, and he was twice voted South American and Argentinian player of the year.