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.
20. Aldo Bobadilla (38) was a regular fixture between the posts for Paraguay for many years, travelling to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, where he played in all three of his country’s matches, and to South Africa 2010, where he was an unused substitute. He also took part in the 2007 Copa America. The towering goalkeeper started out at Cerro Porteno, where he twice clinched the Paraguayan League title, before pulling on the jerseys of Argentinian outfit Gimnasia La Plata and Paraguayan heavyweights Libertad, where he earned the third league winners’ medal of his career. A move to Boca Juniors saw the South American shot-stopper lift the Copa Libertadores, but a subsequent lack of playing time led to him joining Independiente Medellin. After a short spell with Brazilian giants Corinthians, Bobadilla returned to his homeland to bring the curtain down on his career with Olimpia.
21. Thomas Helmer (49) is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest defenders of the modern era, having participated in USA 1994 and France 1998, as well as in the UEFA European Championships of 1992 and 1996, lifting the continental trophy at the latter. The unflappable sweeper came through the ranks at Arminia Bielefeld, where his performances attracted the attention of Borussia Dortmund, who acquired his services in 1986. The composed international spent six seasons with Die Schwarzgelben, lifting the German Cup in 1989. It was with Bayern Munich that he enjoyed his greatest successes, however, as the Bavarian giants claimed three Bundesliga titles, two German Cups, two German League Cups and a UEFA Cup during his time at the club. Helmer also played in the famous UEFA Champions League final of 1999, when Bayern suffered a last-gasp defeat by Manchester United.
22. David Luiz (27) has emerged as one of Brazil’s most proficient defenders in recent years. After holding aloft the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013, he stands an excellent chance of being included in his country’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad this summer. As a younger man, the athletic centre-back appeared at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007. A graduate of Bahia-based Vitoria’s youth academy, he exported his defensive skills to Benfica in 2007, first on a loan basis and then on a permanent transfer. A Primeira Liga crown and three Portuguese League Cups ensued, as did a move to Chelsea in January 2011. Luiz has since developed into a key player at Stamford Bridge, lifting the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League trophy, and finishing as a runner-up at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.
23. Asuna Tanaka (26) was part of the Japanese squad that prevailed at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, and that obtained a silver medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London the following year. Earlier in her career, the midfielder took part in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and triumphed at the 2005 AFC U-17 Women’s Championship. She began her club career at Tasaki Perule, before signing for INAC Kobe Leonessa, where she won two Japanese L. League titles and three Empress’ Cups. At the start of this current season, Tanaka committed herself to FFC Frankfurt.
24. Alessandro Costacurta (48) is an AC Milan legend, having been a faithful servant of the Lombardy club from 1986 to 2007. Following an early season-long loan at Monza, he became a mainstay of the team, getting his hands on practically every piece of silverware available, including seven Serie A titles, an Italian Cup, five Italian Super Cups, five European Cups/UEFA Champions League crowns, four UEFA Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. On the international stage, the tough-tackling centre-back picked up a runners-up medal with Italy at USA 1994, but had to endure a quarter-final exit at the hands of France four years later. In between those two tournaments, Costacurta starred at UEFA EURO 1996. After hanging up his boots, he fulfilled the role of assistant coach at Milan, prior to taking the reins at Serie B side Mantova for one solitary season.
25. Rais M'Bolhi (28) rose to prominence at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, where he pulled off several brilliant saves for Algeria. The French-born custodian also took part in the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations and later helped Les Fennecs to qualify for Brazil 2014, where he is likely to be his country’s first-choice goalkeeper. At club level, he has defended the colours of Ethnikos Piraeus (Greece), Panetolikos (Greece), Ryukyu (Japan), Slavia Sofia, CSKA Sofia and Krylia Sovetov (Russia), who then sent him back to CSKA Sofia on loan. A spell at French side Ajaccio followed, before M’Bolhi signed for CSKA permanently in 2013.
26. Lee Woonjae (41) can look back with pride on an international career that saw him perform in goal for Korea Republic at three World Cups, namely USA 1994, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. In addition, he competed in three AFC Asian Cups in a row, attaining third place in 2000 and 2007. Woonjae spent his entire domestic career in South Korea, scooping four K-League titles, two Korean Cups, four K-League Cups, two Korean Super Cups, one AFC Champions League title and one Asian Super Cup with Suwon Bluewings. He spent the 2000/01 campaign on loan at Sangmu. In 2012, the experienced No1 retired from the game, on the back of a final one-season adventure with Chunnam Dragons.