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.
1. Ruud Gullit (51) is a living legend of Dutch football, having played a key role in the Oranje’s capture of the UEFA European Championship crown in 1988, the country’s sole major honour to date. Dynamic and versatile, he also appeared at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™, before making his international swansong at UEFA EURO 1992, where the Netherlands were knocked out at the semi-final stage. He turned professional at Haarlem, with whom he won the second division championship, before signing for Feyenoord, where he won the Dutch League and Cup double. With subsequent club PSV Eindhoven, he twice earned a league winners’ medal, prior to joining AC Milan. The attack-minded international’s time in Lombardy was highly productive, as he claimed three Serie A titles, three Italian Super Cups, two European Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. Gullit also enjoyed two separate stints with Sampdoria, one of which resulted in a memorable Coppa Italia victory. After moving to Chelsea, where he would become player-manager, he then lifted the FA Cup. The iconic Dutchman went on to take charge at Newcastle United, Feyenoord, Los Angeles Galaxy and Terek Grozny. He was named Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1984 and 1986, and European Footballer of the Year in 1987.
2. Javier Martinez (25) is likely to have regarded the past year as his greatest yet as a footballer, following his involvement in Spain’s successful 2010 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2012 campaigns and Bayern Munich’s historic Bundesliga-German Cup-UEFA Champions League treble. In addition, the defensive midfielder recently finished second at this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup with La Roja. Earlier in his international career, he emerged victorious at the UEFA European U-19 Championship, as well as at its U-21 equivalent. At club level, he started out in Osasuna’s reserve side, before joining Athletic Bilbao, where he performed admirably for six seasons, reaching the final of the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and Europa League.
3. Samuel Kuffour (37) helped Ghana to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup, at Germany 2006, and took part in five CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. The robust defender played at two Olympic Football Tournaments, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996, securing a bronze medal at the former event. He also appeared at the 1993 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where the Black Stars reached the final, and at two FIFA U-17 World Cups, hoisting the trophy in 1991 and finishing in the runners-up spot in 1993. Kuffour joined Torino’s youth academy as a 15-year-old, where his talent and potential attracted the attention of Bayern Munich, with whom he would later experience great success, winning six German League titles, four German Cups, five German League Cups, a UEFA Champions League crown and an Intercontinental Cup. After putting pen to paper with Roma, he was loaned out to Livorno and Ajax, before finishing his career in his homeland with Asante Kotoko. The powerful centre-back was voted Ghanaian Footballer of the Year on three occasions.
4. Fatih Terim (60) is a well-respected figure in Turkish football, having achieved much both on and off the pitch. As a player, it was with Galatasaray that he made his name, winning three Turkish Cups and one Super Cup. A serious injury forced him to retire from the game, but he soon showed similar promise in the coaching sphere, steering his country’s national team to EURO 1996, and in a later, second spell, to the semi-finals of EURO 2008. The Adana-born tactician also coached Turkish outfits Ankaragucu, Goztepe and Galatasaray, with whom he landed six league titles, two national cups, four Turkish Super Cups and a UEFA Cup. His reputation at home saw him earn high-profile appointments at Fiorentina and AC Milan, but he eventually returned to Gala to build a team capable of competing with the cream of the crop in Europe. Terim has just been handed the task of rescuing Turkey’s flailing Brazil 2014 campaign, the third time he has occupied the prestigious role.
5. Leonardo (44) held aloft the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA with Brazil, but had to settle for second place at France 1998. Between those tournaments, he clinched the FIFA Confederations Cup and Copa America, both in 1997. He also previously finished third at the 1989 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Equally at ease at left-back or as an attacking midfielder, he won the Brazilian League and Cup with Flamengo, and a Campeonata Paulista, Copa Sudamericana, two Recopa Sudamericana crowns and an Intercontinental Cup with Sao Paolo. The Brazilian then exported his skills to Europe, where he starred for Valencia, and Japan, where he scooped a league championship with Kashima Antlers. A return to Europe saw him defend the colours of Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, with whom he added a Serie A Championship and an Italian Cup to his footballing CV. Leonardo came full circle by re-signing for Sao Paolo and then Flamengo, although it was with I Rossoneri that he officially ended his playing career. Turning his hand to coaching, he took command at AC Milan and at city rivals Internazionale, inspiring the latter club to an Italian Cup triumph. Up until his recent resignation, the decorated South American fulfilled the role of director of football at PSG.
6. Ivan Hasek (50) represented Czechoslovakia at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy and at the 1983 FIFA U-20 World Cup, attaining the quarter-finals on both occasions. As a Sparta Prague player, he collected five Czechoslovakian titles and three Czechoslovakian Cups. The incisive midfielder subsequently plied his trade abroad, for French outfit Strasbourg, and then for Japanese sides Sanfrecce Hiroshima and JEF United, before returning to Sparta in order to see out the remainder of his career. After taking over as coach at the Generali Arena, he led the Czech giants to two national championships. His successes led to further appointments, at Strasbourg, Saint-Etienne and Al Ahli (UAE), with whom he masterminded domestic league and super cup victories. He moved to Saudi Arabian heavyweights Al Hilal in January 2012, swiftly overseeing a favourable outcome in the Saudi Crown Prince Cup final the following month.
7. Javad Nekounam (33) recently realised a footballing dream by helping Iran to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, having previously competed at Germany 2006. The influential midfielder also played a crucial role in Team Melli’s 2002 Asian Games and 2004 AFC Asian Cup campaigns, winning the former and finishing third in the latter. The Iranian national captain came through the ranks at Tehran-based Pas, where he sewed up the Iranian league title, before starring for UAE sides Al Wahda and Al Sharjah. His career moved up a gear with a transfer to Osasuna, where he appeared in the starting XI for several seasons. Last year, he committed himself to Iranian powerhouses Esteghlal, who were crowned domestic champions in May.