Sunday 13 March 2016, 08:49

Happy Birthday to you!

In our regular Sunday feature, presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.

13. Giancarlo De Sisti(73) represented Italy at the 1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico™, where he played in six matches, including his team’s defeat in the Final by Brazil. Two years earlier, the Rome-born midfielder had helped La Nazionale to capture their first UEFA European Championship title. At club level, the creative playmaker started out at Roma, where he won an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and a Coppa Italia, prior to starring for Fiorentina, with whom he picked up a Serie A title, another Italian Cup and a Mitropa Cup over nine seasons. After returning to Roma to see out the remainder of his playing days, De Sisti moved into coaching, taking the reins at Fiorentina, Udinese and Ascoli.

14. Bruno Bellone(54) played a key role in France’s UEFA EURO 1984 victory, scoring the second and crucial goal against Spain in the final. The pacey winger also competed at Spain 1982, where Les Bleus finished fourth, and Mexico 1986, where they claimed third place. Bellone spent the entirety of his career in French football, securing a league title and national cup with Monaco and later turning out for Cannes and Montpellier.

15. Paul Pogba(23) showed great potential in 2013 by helping France to land the FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he was awarded the adidas Golden Ball for his performances. The energetic midfield man has since gone from strength to strength, establishing himself in France’s senior team and earning the Hyundai Best Young Player accolade at Brazil 2014. He had previously made his mark on the UEFA European U-19 Championship and its U-17 equivalent. Pogba turned professional with Manchester United, but after making just three appearances for the Red Devils, he signed for Juventus, where he has since flourished, amassing three Serie A titles, an Italian Cup and two Italian Super Cups, and reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League. The dynamic Frenchman is now into his third season in Turin.**

16. Edison Mendez(37) likely took great pride in participating in Ecuador’s first successful qualifying campaign, which ended in his nation advancing to the 2002 World Cup. At the tournament proper in Asia, the attacking midfielder scored the winning goal against Croatia to hand La Tri their maiden victory on football’s greatest stage. In addition, he appeared at Germany 2006, Brazil 2014 and four consecutive Copa America contests between 2001 and 2011. The dead-ball specialist enjoyed his greatest club moments with LDU Quito, with whom he enjoyed three separate spells and clinched the Ecuadorian League title and Copa Sudamericana, and with PSV, where he bagged two Eredivisie Championships. Mendez also pulled on the jerseys of Deportivo Quito, Emelec and El Nacional in Ecuador, of Irapuato and Santos Laguna in Mexico, of Atletico Mineiro in Brazil, and of Santa Fe in Colombia.

17. Alvaro Recoba(40) was an excellent ambassador for Uruguayan football during his long career, performing ably for his country at the 2002 World Cup, where he notched a goal in the group stage, and at the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 1997 and 2007 Copa America tournaments. The skilful forward came through the ranks at Danubio, where his displays earned him a move to Nacional, with whom he collected two Uruguayan League titles. A transfer to Inter Milan followed, as did further silverware in the shape of two Serie A crowns, two Italian Cups, two Italian Super Cups and a UEFA Cup. Recoba later wore the colours of Venezia, Torino and Panionios.

18. Willy Sagnol(39)was part of the France XI that lost the 2006 World Cup Final to Italy on penalties. The reliable right back also played at the Confederations Cups of 2001 and 2003, lifting the trophy on both occasions, and at EURO 2004 and EURO 2008, as well as at the 1997 U-20 World Cup. After starting off at Saint-Etienne, Sagnol put pen to paper with Monaco, where he claimed a Ligue 1 title and two Trophees des champions. His performances at Stade Louis II earned him a move to Bayern Munich, where he added five Bundesliga crowns, four German Cups, two German League Cups, a Champions League title and an Intercontinental Cup. Once his playing career had drawn to a close, he tried his hand at coaching, taking charge of the French U-21 side and then Bordeaux, the club he oversees to this day.

19. Caroline Seger(31) starred for Sweden at the last three FIFA Women’s World Cups™: China 2007, Germany 2011, where she and her team-mates finished third, and Canada 2015. The Helsingborg-born midfielder also showcased her skills at the 2008 and 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments and the UEFA European Women’s Championships of 2005, 2009 and 2013. She began her career at Linkopings, where she won a Swedish League title, three Swedish Cups and a Swedish Super Cup. The hard-working Swede tried her luck in the United States, donning the colours of Philadelphia Independence and Western New York Flash, with whom she won the national championship. Seger subsequently returned home to first join Malmo, where she obtained a Damallsvenskan title and Swedish Super Cup, and then Tyreso, where she clinched another Swedish League crown. In 2014, she committed herself to Paris Saint-Germain.