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.
Juan Carlos Valeron (37) is one of La Liga’s most recognisable faces, having remained loyal to Deportivo La Coruna for twelve years, despite the club’s relegation at the end of season 2010/11. Valeron started out at Las Palmas, before signing for Mallorca. After a spell with Atletico Madrid, he joined Depor in 2000, and would never play for a different club again. The midfielder has picked up a handful of honours in Galicia, namely a Copa del Rey (2002), two Spanish Super Cups (2000 and 2002) and a UEFA Intertoto Cup (2008), as well as the Segunda Division title secured this past season. On the international stage, he represented Spain at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, where he played four matches and scored one goal. He also appeared at two UEFA European Championships, in 2000 and 2004, and was part of the team that won the UEFA European U-21 Championship in 1998.
Fabio Capello (66) is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, having guided some of the most high-profile clubs in Europe to national and continental glory. Capello began his playing career with SPAL, before joining Roma, where he won the Coppa Italia in 1969. The midfielder moved to Juventus, with whom he collected three league winners’ medals (in 1972, 1973 and 1975). After six seasons in Turin, he put pen to paper with another giant of the Italian game, AC Milan. A further Italian Cup followed in 1977, as did the Serie A title in 1979. He was called up to Italy’s squad for the 1974 FIFA World Cup in Germany, but the solitary goal he scored was not enough to save La Nazionale from suffering a first-round exit. After hanging up his boots, he moved into coaching, a domain in which he quickly distinguished himself at AC Milan, leading the Lombardy club to four Serie A titles (in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996), three Italian Super Cups (1992, 1993 and 1994), a UEFA Champions League crown and a UEFA Super Cup, both in 1994. He then left I Rossoneri for Real Madrid, and despite only staying for one campaign, he still managed to mastermind a Spanish league title in 1997. He returned to Milan for a season, before taking the reins at Roma, who he inspired to the league and cup double in 2001. The Italian then took over at Juventus, winning two further championships during his tenure. He opted for a second spell with Real Madrid, and having been given a remit of bringing the La Liga title back to the Bernabeu, he achieved that goal in 2007. Keen for a completely new challenge, he was appointed manager of the England national team. He oversaw successful qualifying campaigns for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and UEFA EURO 2012, but resigned from the position just a few weeks prior to the beginning of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Brian McBride (40) took part in three FIFA World Cups with USA (France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006), recording a creditable total of three goals in ten games. The robust forward also played in the Olympic Football Tournament at Beijing 2008 and four CONCACAF Gold Cups, a tournament which he won in 2002, the same year in which he finished top scorer with four goals. During his long career in Europe, he defended the colours of Wolfsburg, Preston North End, Everton and Fulham. Back home in USA, he turned out for Columbus Crew, Milwaukee Rampage and Chicago Fire, the club he was with when he finally decided to retire.
Frank Lampard (34) may well have mixed feelings when he goes to blow out his candles this year. He will likely feel delight on the one hand, from having recently lifted the Champions League trophy with Chelsea. But this is likely to be simultaneously tempered with disappointment, a recent injury having prevented him from playing for England at EURO 2012. Lampard previously appeared at two FIFA World Cups (Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010) in the Three Lions’ midfield, as well as at EURO 2004. His career began at West Ham United, from where he was loaned out to Swansea City in his first year. He returned to the London club, and wore their jersey for six further seasons, the highlight of which was an Intertoto Cup victory in 1999. He subsequently moved across the capital to Chelsea, with whom he has since won three English league championships (2005, 2006 and 2010), four FA Cups (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012), two Community Shields (2005 and 2009) and the aforementioned Champions League title (2012).
Konstantinos Katsouranis (33) was involved in Greece’s greatest footballing moment to date, a stunning triumph at EURO 2004, during which he took part in all six of his team’s encounters. The defensive midfielder also starred at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, EURO 2008 and the most recent FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He is currently in Poland with Greece’s EURO 2012 squad. His professional career began at Panachaiki, but it was at AEK Athens that he made a name for himself. He joined Benfica, securing the Portuguese league championship in 2009, before returning to Greece to play an integral role in Panathinaikos’ double-winning side of season 2009/10.
Khodadad Azizi (41) helped Iran to return to the FIFA World Cup stage, at France 1998, after the nation had spent many years on the international sidelines. Back then, his skills were familiar to football fans all over Asia, as proven by his being named the continent’s Player of the Year in 1996. That same year, his eye for goal enabled Iran to finish in third place at the AFC Asian Cup. Four years later, the forward was involved in his country’s second successive run to the semi-finals. At domestic level, he played for Aboomoslem, Fath Tehran, Bahman and Persepolis in Iran, before signing for Cologne. He stayed in Germany for three seasons, after which time he enjoyed a short spell with San Jose Earthquakes. He returned to the Middle East to turn out for United Arab Emirates outfit Al Nasr, before an offer from Tehran-based club Pas persuaded him to move back to his homeland. After a short stint at Austrian side Admira Wacker, the Iranian international once more retraced his steps to Tehran, where he represented Oghab and Rah Ahan before bringing down the curtain on his career.
Zinedine Zidane (40) cemented his position of living football legend by constantly putting in tremendous performances for club and country. Zidane led France to the kind of success that most players can only dream about: a maiden FIFA World Cup triumph in 1998, followed by continental glory at EURO 2000. At Korea/Japan 2002, the gifted playmaker was restricted by injury to just one appearance, a factor that contributed to an early first-round exit for Les Bleus. He partly made up for his absence at Germany 2006, when he propelled his team-mates to the Final, only to be sent off in extra time after having earlier opened the scoring. The Marseille-born midfielder also participated in two other EUROs, in 1996 and 2004. At club level, it was his displays at Cannes that initially brought him to the attention of Bordeaux. Les Girondins would certainly not regret signing him, as his burgeoning talents first inspired the club to success in the Intertoto Cup, and then drove them all the way to the final of the UEFA Cup. Europe’s top clubs battled it out to obtain his signature, a tussle from which Juventus would emerge victorious. In Turin he would go on to win two Serie A titles (in 1997 and 1998), an Italian Super Cup (1997), a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup (both in 1996), as well as another Intertoto Cup in 1999. He was then transferred to Real Madrid, where he continued to rack up winners’ medals, claiming the La Liga title in 2003, two Spanish Super Cups (2001 and 2003), and a Champions League crown, UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup (all in 2002). The midfield maestro announced his retirement at the end of the 2005/06 campaign. Aside from the team honours he won during his career, Zidane also picked up a host of individual accolades, including three FIFA World Player of the Year awards (in 1998, 2000 and 2003) and a UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award (2002). In 1998 and 2002, he was designated French Player of the Year, while in 2001 he was named Serie A Footballer of the Year. Zidane currently fulfils the role of Director of Football at Real Madrid.