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.
4. Marcell Jansen (27) has enjoyed great success with both club and country over the past few years. He was part of the Germany squad that finished third at two consecutive FIFA World Cup™ tournaments – at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 – and reached the final of UEFA EURO 2008. Earlier in his career, the left-back took part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005. Jansen came through the ranks at Borussia Monchengladbach before joining Bayern Munich, with whom he won the Bundesliga title, German Cup and German League Cup. He currently represents Hamburg.
5. Oleg Blokhin (60) is a living legend of Ukrainian and Soviet football. With the Soviet Union, he played in two FIFA World Cups, at Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986, as well as at the Olympic Games of 1972 and 1976. At club level, it was with Dynamo Kyiv that he became a star, picking up eight domestic league titles, five Soviet Cups, three USSR Super Cups, two European Cup Winners’ Cups and one European Super Cup over an 18-year period. After a subsequent spell with Austrian outfit Vorwarts Steyr, he ended his playing career in Cyprus while wearing the colours of Aris Limassol. The free-scoring forward was named European Footballer of the Year in 1975 and Soviet Footballer of the Year on three different occasions. After hanging up his boots, Blokhin turned his hand to coaching, taking the reins at Olympiacos, PAOK Salonika and Ionikos, before steering the Ukrainian national side to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. Following stints at the helm of FC Moscow and Dynamo Kiev, he returned to the international arena to oversee Ukraine’s bid at EURO 2012.
6. Maren Mjelde (23) has participated in two major events with Norway over the last few years, namely the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008. A solid defender, Mjelde appears to have a long and successful career ahead of her, both in a Norway shirt and in that of her club, Arna-Bjornar.
7. Martin Palermo (39) is fondly remembered by fans of Argentinian football for his efforts during his country’s difficult qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010, and for his goal against Greece at the tournament proper. In addition, the clinical finisher registered three goals during the 1999 Copa America, where he also unfortunately contrived to miss three penalties in one clash with Columbia. Palermo started out at Estudiantes, where he won the Argentinian second division, before moving to Boca Juniors, with whom he secured six league titles and twice lifted the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and Recopa Sudamericana. He also played a key role in Boca’s defeat of Real Madrid in the 2000 Intercontinental Cup. He then crossed the ocean to enjoy a taste of European football, turning out for Spanish clubs Villarreal, Real Betis and Alaves. Palermo was voted South American Footballer of the Year in 1998, and twice finished top scorer in the Argentinian league.
8. Joe Cole (31) is one of the few players to have represented England at three FIFA World Cups: Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. The skilful attacking midfielder’s potential first became evident at West Ham, where he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup. It was his decision to join London rivals Chelsea, however, that propelled his career onto a different level. In seven seasons at Stamford Bridge, Cole earned winners’ medals in three league campaigns, three FA Cup finals, two League Cup finals and two Community Shields. After signing for Liverpool, he enjoyed a productive loan spell at Lille, before returning to Anfield over the summer.
9. Alessandro Del Piero (38) bid farewell to his beloved Juventus earlier this year, but the only tears the long-serving legend shed during his final match were joyful ones, following La Vecchia Signora’s capture of the Serie A title. He recently opened up a new chapter of his astonishing career in Sydney, where he has since marked his 800th appearance of a remarkable 20-year career with a goal. With Italy, Del Piero hoisted the FIFA World Cup in 2006, in what represented his third quest to win football’s greatest prize, and appeared at four UEFA EUROs in a row, losing in the final in 2000. As a young man, the prolific goalscorer took part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and emerged victorious at two UEFA European U-21 Championships. His numerous honours amassed with Juventus include six league championships, one Italian Cup, four Italian Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. Del Piero also finished top scorer in Serie A as well as in the Champions League.
10. Ahmed Fathi (28) is one of the Egyptian national team’s most combative midfielders, whose battling qualities were a key factor in the Pharaohs’ three successive CAF Africa Cup of Nations successes, in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Part of the celebrated youth side that triumphed at the CAF African U-20 Championship and went on to reach the Round of 16 at the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the UAE, he also appeared at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. This year, he was selected as one of the three over-age players in Egypt’s squad for the Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012. Fathi’s club career began at Ismaily, where he claimed a league winners’ medal. Brief stints at English outfit Sheffield United and Kuwaiti club Kazma followed, prior to his returning home to defend the colours of Al Ahly. During his time with the Cairo giants, the versatile right-footer has won four Egyptian league crowns, three Egyptian Super Cups and one CAF Champions League title, a feat that also allowed him to experience the FIFA Club World Cup in 2008.