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.
Carlos Valderrama (51) is generally viewed as a living legend of Colombian football, captaining Los Cafeteros at three FIFA World Cup™ tournaments, namely Italy 1990, USA 1994 and France 1998. He enjoyed a varied club career, starting out in his homeland with Union Magdalena and Millonarios, before properly making a name for himself at Deportivo Cali. He then packed his bags for Europe, where he hoisted the French Cup with Montpellier. After a spell at Real Valladolid in Spain, the skilful playmaker returned to Colombia to play for Independiente Medellin and then Atletico Junior, with whom he secured two national championships. His next destination was USA, where he lifted the MLS Supporters' Shield with Tampa Bay Mutiny and finally hung up his boots while on the books of the Colorado Rapids. In terms of individual accolades, the Colombian midfielder was named South American Footballer of the Year on two occasions.
Jerome Boateng (24) has established himself as a regular with the German national side, after having been brought into the fold during his country’s qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. His fine performances in South Africa helped Die Nationalmannschaft to obtain third place in the competition. The defender also participated in UEFA EURO 2012, where Germany reached the semi-finals. Boateng had previously enjoyed international success at the 2009 UEFA European U-21 Championship in Sweden, where the Germans emerged victorious. Boateng began his career with Hertha Berlin, before moving to Hamburg and then to Manchester City. An FA Cup win and some high-quality displays in England attracted the attention of current employers Bayern Munich. His time in Bavaria has since seen him lift the German Super Cup, but he was forced to content himself with second place in the UEFA Champions League, the Bundesliga and the German Cup last season.
Ri Kwang-Chon (27) enabled Korea DPR to make a long-awaited return to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, playing a key role in their qualifying campaign by putting in top displays against highly fancied Asian opponents. The versatile defender also took part in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. Domestically, he now plies his trade at Muang Thong United in Thailand, a club he joined earlier this year from North Korean outfit April 25 Sports Club.
Matthias Sammer (45) wrote his name into the history of German football when he inspired his nation to UEFA EURO glory in 1996, having been part of the team that finished continental runners-up four years earlier. The Dresden-born midfielder-turned-sweeper also appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA. Earlier in his international career, he helped the former East Germany to claim third place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 1987 in Chile. Sammer played for just four clubs in his illustrious career, which began at Dynamo Dresden, where he won two league championships and a national cup. Following a successful stint at Stuttgart, during which his team secured the Bundesliga title, he briefly exported his talents to Italy to don the jersey of Inter Milan, before heading back home to sign for Borussia Dortmund. He added numerous winners’ medals to his personal display cabinet while at the Westfalenstadion, following Die Schwarzgelben’s victories in two domestic league campaigns, two German Super Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup. Sammer’s composed playing style saw him presented with various individual awards, including German Footballer of the Year (in 1995 and 1996), EURO 1996 Best Player and European Footballer of the Year (in 1996).
Homare Sawa (34) captained Japan to a surprise triumph over USA at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, and recently earned a silver medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012. Sawa was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2011, and also received the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball awards at the aforementioned FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier that year. The hard-working midfielder has also twice been voted AFC Women’s Player of the Year. At club level, Sawa initially experienced a trophy-laden period with Beleza in Japan, winning nine league titles, five national cups and a League Cup, before trying her luck in the United States with Atlanta Beat and Washington Freedom.
Mohamed Barakat (36) saw his popularity in Egypt soar after helping propel the Pharoahs to victory in the 2006 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. The talented playmaker has been equally influential for the club at which he has spent the majority of his career to date, Al Ahly, obtaining six Egyptian league championships, two Egyptian Cups, two Egyptian Super Cups, three CAF Champions League titles and three CAF Super Cups, as well as qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup on three occasions. Prior to joining the Cairo-based giants, Barakat tasted success in the Egyptian League and Cup with Ismaily, and also had two spells abroad: one with Saudi Arabian team Al Ahli, with whom he won the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Tournament for Arab Clubs (now Arab Champions League), and the other with Qatari outfit Al Arabi.
Selim Benachour (31) brought himself to the attention of a wider audience by effectively contributing towards Tunisia’s qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. He also played in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, finishing on the winning side in 2004. Following that continental triumph, the Tunisians earned the right to represent Africa at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2005. Benachour came through the ranks at Paris Saint-Germain in France, before enjoying spells in Portugal and Russia, where he represented Vitoria Guimaraes and Rubin Kazan respectively. A subsequent season with Al Qadsia in Kuwait was followed by stints at La Liga side Malaga and Portuguese club Maritimo. The midfielder currently defends the colours of APOEL in Cyprus.