Happy Birthday to you!
In our regular Sunday feature, we bring you the names of some of the best-known figures on planet football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
Former Argentina international Hernan Crespo turns 34 today. The striker has enjoyed his most fruitful years in Italy and will go for goal in a Genoa shirt next term. An Italian pair could stage a joint party if they wished, as Alberto Gilardino (27) and Gianfranco Zola (43) both celebrate their special day. Gilardino is at the height of his powers with Fiorentina, while former great Zola is the West Ham United manager.
Fresh from penning a two-year deal with Hamburg, Ze Roberto (35) marks a birthday among new team-mates tomorrow. The former Brazil midfielder has opted to extend his playing career by joining the north-German outfit, and seems set to hang up his boots as one of the Bundesliga's genuine stalwarts.
Alberto Aquilani (25) is a man on the fringes of Italy boss Marcello Lippi's squad. Despite his relative youth, the Roma midfielder has been a Serie A runner-up three times and has lifted the Coppa Italia twice. Jurgen Grabowski (65) chalked up an even more impressive record of success. The former Germany international won the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil, and laid hands on the UEFA Cup six years later with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.
Arguably the most popular and certainly one of the most influential Republic of Ireland players in England is Robbie Keane (29). The Tottenham Hotspur forward already has 90 caps to his name, and rates as one of his country's most successful players of recent decades.
Former Bulgaria playmaker Iordan Letchkov, who is 42 today, enjoyed his greatest triumph at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA, when he and his team-mates finished a highly creditable fourth. Gianluca Vialli (45) is another former world-class footballer. Among his previous clubs, the much-travelled Italian can list Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea, where he acted as player-manager between 1998 and 2000.
Belgian Danny Boffin (44) appeared at the FIFA World Cup on three separate occasions, although he came away from the tournaments with little more than experience and unforgettable memories. Mario Gomez is hoping for rather more than that in the future. The striker switched from Stuttgart to Bayern Munich last month for a new Bundesliga record transfer fee, and celebrates his 24th birthday with his new team-mates on Friday – almost certainly with traditional Bavarian Weisswurst (white sausage) and pretzels.