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.
16. Francesco Graziani (60) played a centre role in Italy’s 1982 FIFA World Cup™ triumph in Spain, appearing in every match and scoring against Cameroon. This success made up for the setbacks he had previously experienced, first at Argentina 1978, where the Italians just missed out on a place in the Final, and then at the 1980 UEFA European Championship, where they had to settle for fourth place. Graziani kicked off his club career in Serie B with Arezzo, before signing for Torino, with whom he won the Serie A title and finished top scorer in the league. Spells at Fiorentina and Roma followed, the latter of which saw the striker lift the Italian Cup on two occasions. After joining Udinese, where he experienced the disappointment of relegation, he ended his career at Australian outfit Leichhardt Tigers. Graziani subsequently tried his hand at coaching, taking charge of numerous Italian sides, including Fiorentina, Reggina and Avellino.
17. Andre Ayew (23) rose to prominence as a young man, forming part of the Ghana side that emerged victorious at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009, an event for which they had qualified by becoming African champions in the same age category. As a member of the Ghanaian senior national team, he participated in the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, where the Black Stars finished third, and also lost in the final versus Egypt two years later. The skilful winger’s continental displays earned him a place in the starting line-up during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, where his nation reached the quarter-finals. Ayew made his professional debut for Marseille in 2007, thereby following in the footsteps of his illustrious father, Abedi Pele. Following stints out on loan at Lorient and Arles-Avignon, Ayew firmly established himself at L’OM, helping the club to secure two French League Cups and two Trophees des champions.
18. Gianluca Pagliuca (46) is one of the greatest goalkeepers Italy has produced in recent times, propelling La Nazionale to the Final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and to the quarter-finals in 1998. The athletic shot-stopper also appeared at the Olympic Football Tournament at Atlanta 1996. Domestically, he made his name at Sampdoria, where he won the only league championship in the club’s history, as well as three Italian Cups, an Italian Super Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. He also came close to hoisting the European Cup, but narrowly lost out to Barcelona at Wembley. Pagliuca was then transferred to Inter Milan, where he added to his continental medal collection, triumphing in the UEFA Cup. Six seasons with Bologna in both Serie A and Serie B followed, before he brought the curtain down on an impressive career at Ascoli.
19. Gary Cahill (27) has had a memorable year, one which began with his high-profile transfer from Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea. The solid defender went on to earn winners’ medals in the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League with the Blues, and could end 2012 on a high if he and his team-mates can overcome Corinthians to win the ongoing FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. A product of Aston Villa’s youth system, Cahill was loaned out by the Birmingham outfit to Burnley and Sheffield United, before a move to Bolton saw him develop into a formidable centre-back.
20. Martin Demichelis (32) is a stalwart of Argentina’s defence, having started all of his country’s matches at South Africa 2010, during which he contributed a goal against Greece in the group phase. He was also part of the Argentinian squad that attained second spot at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. He started out at River Plate, where he won two national championships, before crossing the Atlantic to put pen to paper with Bayern Munich. The South American centre-half’s time with the Bavarian giants was hugely productive, as he won no fewer than four German league and cup doubles, as well as two German League Cups and one German Super Cup. He did not, however, enjoy the same level of European success, ending up on the losing side of the 2010 UEFA Champions League final clash with Inter Milan. At the beginning of last year, he joined Malaga, and subsequently played a key role in the Andalusian outfit’s first-ever Champions League qualification. Demichelis has been in fine form for Los Boquerones in the tournament proper this season, helping his side finish top of their group ahead of AC Milan, and will be hopeful that their adventure can continue in the knockout stages.
21. Ilya Leonov (33) is one of Russia’s most prominent Beach Soccer exponents, having appeared at the last four FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, including Ravenna/Italy 2011, where his nation secured a maiden global crown. At club level, Leonov currently represents Lokomotiv Moscow.
22. Steffi Jones (40) is a veritable legend of the women’s game in Germany, having made over 100 appearances for the national team. She was part of the squad that claimed the country's first FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 2003, and triumphed at three UEFA European Women’s Championships in a row. The resilient defender also earned consecutive bronze medals at the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament, at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. She began her career at Praunheim, before enjoying spells with FSV Frankfurt, where she won the German championship, with Bad Neuenahr, with American side Washington Freedom, where she also earned a league winners’ medal, and with 1.FFC Frankfurt, with whom she picked up four further league titles, three German Cups and two UEFA Women’s Cups. Unusually for a defender, Jones finished top scorer in the latter-named tournament in season 2001/02. After hanging up her boots, she put her leadership qualities to good use by successfully taking the reins of the organising committee of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.