The lean and fleet-footed Jonathan Mensah is one of several players who have graduated from Ghana’s youth side, the Black Satellites, to the senior Black Stars. This tall and rangy centre-back played in all but one of his country's matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009 as Sellas Tetteh's side won the tournament for the first time in their history. Mensah’s impressive performances at that competition in Egypt earned him a spot in the side that went to the following year's FIFA World Cup™. He appeared in three matches at South Africa 2010 as Ghana came agonisingly close to becoming the first African country to reach the semi-finals. 

Mensah began his career at Ashanti Gold before joining Free State Stars in 2008. He spent two seasons in South Africa and proved a real gem for the provincial outfit, becoming a sensation with his oft-times enthusiastic – and sometimes reckless – tackling and commitment to the cause. He moved to Italy and Udinese two years later, but failed to break through to the first team, instead moving on loan to Spanish club Granada. His next port of call was current club Evian, who at the time had just been promoted to the French top-flight. Mensah will have a special wish for his birthday this year: to play football on the actual day. The defender turns 24 on 13 July – the day of the Brazil 2014 Final at the Maracana.