In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays during the coming week.
Rachel Buehler (27) has double cause to celebrate this week, as she looks back with pride on the gold medal secured by USA at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London. It was her second Olympic triumph after also winning at Beijing 2008 and will have helped ease the disappointment of finishing as runners-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. After having shone at high school and university level, Buehler began her professional career with Gold Pride, winning the league championship in 2010, before signing for Boston Breakers the following year.
Sulley Muntari (28) has caught the eye in all the major competitions he has played in with Ghana. The energetic central midfielder propelled the Black Stars to their first-ever FIFA World Cup™ appearance, at Germany 2006, and to the quarter-final stage of South Africa 2010. Previously, he was part of the young Ghana side that reached the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2001. At continental level, he has participated in three CAF Africa Cup of Nations, finishing in third place in 2008. Muntari first rose to prominence while at Udinese, before joining Inter Milan by way of Portsmouth. He amassed numerous honours with I Nerazzurri, including two Italian championships, an Italian Super Cup and an Italian Cup, as well as the UEFA Champions League title and the FIFA Club World Cup. He then tried his luck at Sunderland, prior to enjoying a successful loan spell at AC Milan, during which he came close to picking up another Serie A winners’ medal last season. His performances during the second half of that campaign earned him a permanent deal, but a knee injury sustained during the close season break has seen the Ghanaian international begin the current term on the treatment table.
Thiago Motta (30) has, over the past few years, established himself as one of the most effective midfielders in the game. Born in Brazil, he opted to represent the Italian national team, with whom he finished runners-up at UEFA EURO 2012. A product of Barcelona’s renowned youth academy, Motta played for the Catalan giants for six seasons, winning two La Liga championships, a Spanish Super Cup and a Champions League title. He subsequently moved to Atletico Madrid, before packing his bags for Italy, where he starred for Genoa and then Inter Milan. While in Lombardy, Motta added a Serie A title, two Italian Cups, an Italian Super Cup, a further Champions League crown and a FIFA Club World Cup to his footballing CV. He was transferred to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.
Jon Dahl Tomasson (36) is one of the greatest forwards Denmark has ever produced. He exploded on to the international stage at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan with four goals, and scored again for his country in the same tournament eight years later, at South Africa 2010. Tomasson also played in two European Championships, finding the net three times the second time around. The prolific marksman pulled on the jerseys of some of the most high-profile clubs in Europe, collecting a host of medals along the way. With Feyenoord, he won the Dutch League, Dutch Super Cup and UEFA Cup. He was also an integral part of an AC Milan side that emerged victorious in Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana, as well as in the Champions League. On an individual level, he finished top scorer in the Danish second division and was twice named Danish Player of the Year. After hanging up his boots, Tomasson began a new career on the bench, and presently occupies the post of assistant coach at Excelsior Rotterdam.
Paulo Sousa (42) tasted success all over Europe as a player, his valuable defensive midfield qualities cementing his first-team status for every team in which he starred. After appearing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Saudi Arabia 1989 with Portugal, he went on to secure the Portuguese league and cup during his time at Benfica, his first club. Following a stint with Lisbon rivals Sporting, he joined Juventus, where he won a domestic treble in 1995 and the Champions League in 1996. Sousa’s next stop-off was Borussia Dortmund, with whom he triumphed in the German Supercup, Champions League and Intercontinental Cup. After spells with Inter Milan, Panathinaikos and Espanyol, he brought an impressive playing career to a close in order to move into coaching. Having since held the reins at Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City and Leicester City, he now finds himself in charge of Hungarian outfit Videoton.
Christopher Katongo (30) is unlikely to forget the past year in a hurry, after captaining Zambia to an historic success at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. In addition, his strong individual displays for the Chipolopolo saw him named Player of the Tournament, and his scoring prowess enabled him to finish joint-top of the scoring charts with three goals. Katongo started out with Zambian club Green Buffaloes, before moving south to sign for Jomo Cosmos in South Africa. After defending the colours of Scandinavian giants Brondby, with whom he lifted the Danish Cup, German team Arminia Bielefeld and Greek outfit Skoda Xanthi, he exported his striking skills to China PR, where he currently turns out for Henan Construction.
David Albelda (35) played in two FIFA World Cups with Spain, at Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. He also represented La Roja at UEFA EURO 2004. Earlier in his career, he participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Malaysia 1997 and obtained a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The defensive midfielder is one of Valencia’s longest-serving players and has enjoyed great success at the Mestalla over the years, winning two Spanish league titles and a UEFA Cup, and appearing in a Champions League final. Albeda initially had two separate loan spells at Villarreal, before establishing himself as a first-team regular for Los Che from the 1999/2000 season onwards.