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.
German coach Winfried Schafer (60) gets this week's birthdays under way. As a player he spent much of his time with Borussia Monchengladbach, but he has made more of a name for himself as a coach, taking the helm at Stuttgart, Al Ain and also the Cameroon national team. Less than half Schafer's age is Morocco's Marouane Chamakh (26), who has already amassed over 50 caps for his country and regularly hits the headlines with his goals for French champions Bordeaux. Tina Wunderlich also turns 33 on 10 January. The German defender recently called time on a career in which she twice won the UEFA European Women's Championship.
Two England internationals past and present share a birthday today. Bryan Robson (53) played in three FIFA World Cups™ (1982, 1986, 1990) and regularly had the honour of captaining the Three Lions, before more recently taking over the coaching reins with the Thailand national team. Emile Heskey (32) meanwhile has set his sights on playing in his second FIFA World Cup come June.
One of Europe's most successful coaches will be 61 on 12 January. Ottmar Hitzfeld has won almost every title that club football has to offer, including the UEFA Champions League, the Toyota Intercontinental Cup and the German Bundesliga. The former teacher will be hoping to add to his coaching resume this summer after steering Switzerland to top spot in their South Africa 2010 qualifying group. Croatia's Robert Prosinecki (41) has a less impressive trophy cabinet, but the former Real Madrid and Barcelona talent has something that Hitzfeld does not: a FIFA World Cup medal, which he earned by helping Croatia to third place at France 1998.
Venezuela's Tomas Rincon (22) on the other hand has his whole career ahead of him. In early 2009 he took a gamble to try to establish himself in the German Bundesliga and his form with Hamburg led him to be picked for 11 of his country's 18 qualifiers for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup, for which they fell short in the end. We go from South America to Australia and the Oceania footballer of the year for 1997 Mark Bosnich, who will be 38 on 13 January. The former Aston Villa and Manchester United goalkeeper played some 20 times for the Socceroos and even managed to score on one occasion.
Another goalkeeper is celebrating his birthday this week: Victor Valdes (28). And while he may not have made it on to the score sheet a la Bosnich, he managed to win no fewer than six trophies in one calendar year. The 2009 goalkeeper of the year was an integral part of the Barcelona team that won such titles as the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. From a goalkeeper to a goalscorer: France's Dominique Rocheteau (55) helped to spearhead the French attack that won the UEFA European Championship in 1984. The wide man also played in three FIFA World Cups (1978, 1982, 1986), taking a third-place medal in the last of those tournaments.
Senegalese footballing hero El Hadji Diouf will be 29 on 15 January. The Blackburn Rovers striker was part of the Senegal team that surprised pundits on their way to the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, a tournament that was sandwiched by his two awards for African footballer of the year in 2001 and 2002. While Diouf and his team-mates have missed out on a trip to South Africa, one man who should be there is up-and-coming German goalkeeper Rene Adler (25). Tomas Galasek (37) is another who will be on the outside looking in this summer, after the former Czech captain announced his retirement from international football in 2008.
Hitzfeld is not the only successful coach to be celebrating his birthday this week. Udo Lattek (75) steered classic clubs such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to glory and is one of only two coaches (along with Giovanni Trapattoni) to have won all three European club competitions. Another player looking to book his ticket for South Africa in June is Reto Ziegler (24), who played in Switzerland's final qualifier after a four-and-a-half year absence from the team. Emanuel Pogatetz (27) meanwhile will be able to take a holiday this summer after Austria failed to qualify.