Sunday 10 July 2016, 08:27

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.

10. Mario Gomez(31) represented Germany at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, finishing in third place, and at three UEFA European Championships in a row, reaching the final in 2008 and the semi-finals in both 2012 – when he was joint top goalscorer – and 2016. After turning professional at Stuttgart, he established himself in the senior side and later won a Bundesliga title and a German Footballer of the Year award. The robust attacker then signed for Bayern Munich, where he claimed two further league crowns, two German Cups, two German Super Cups and a UEFA Champions League title, and finished as top goalscorer in the Bundesliga. Gomez later played for Fiorentina, who loaned him out to Besiktas, where he recently earned a Super Lig winners’ medal and topped the Turkish scoring charts.

11. Leao(67) was part of one of Brazil’s greatest-ever generations of footballers, with whom he competed in four World Cups, lifting the trophy in 1970 as a substitute, and finishing fourth and third respectively in 1974 and 1978 as the team’s starting goalkeeper. The reliable shot-stopper spent the entirety of his career in Brazil with clubs such as Palmeiras, Vasco de Gama and Corinthians, during which time he racked up an impressive number of domestic honours. After putting away his gloves for good, Leao turned his hand to coaching, taking charge of Brazil at the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and of numerous club sides, including Sao Paulo, Santos, Cruzeiro, Corinthians, Vissel Kobe (Japan) and Al-Sadd (Qatar).

12. Hans Tilkowski(81) was a key member of the Germany team that reached the Final of the 1966 World Cup at Wembley Stadium, a game that Die Nationalelf eventually lost to England. The respected goalkeeper also participated in Chile 1962, but remained on the bench throughout. After starting out at Westfalia Herne, Tilkowski put pen to paper with Borussia Dortmund, with whom he landed a German Cup, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and a German Footballer of the Year award.

13. Sandie Toletti(21) starred for France at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. where she brandished the trophy, and at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The talented midfielder is now hopeful of securing a place in France’s senior side, which she has already represented a handful of times. Toletti has played her club football for Montpellier since 2013.

14. Sergei Ignashevich(37) made three appearances for Russia at Brazil 2014, in what was his country’s first appearance on football’s greatest stage since 2002. The commanding centre-back has also taken part in three European Championships, in 2008, 2012 and 2016. He rose to prominence with Lokomotiv Moscow, clinching a Russian League title, a Russian Cup and a Russian Super Cup, prior to committing himself to CSKA Moscow, where he has since amassed five league crowns, 12 national cups and a UEFA Cup.

15. Peter Odemwingie(35) donned the jersey of Nigeria at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, where he scored a crucial goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina that enabled the Super Eagles to advance to the knockout stages. In addition, the pacey forward played at four CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, finishing third on three occasions, and at the 2008 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing, where he and his team-mates won a silver medal. Odemwingie began his career with Nigerian outfit Bendel Insurance, before pulling on the jerseys of Lille, Lokomotiv Moscow, West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City, Stoke City and Bristol City.

16. Gareth Bale(27) can look back on a remarkable year for club and country while blowing out his candles this year, having recently propelled Wales to the semi-finals of EURO 2016 – in the diminutive nation’s maiden appearance at the continental event – and held aloft the Champions League trophy with Real Madrid for the second time in three seasons. The dynamic Welshman had previously hoisted a Copa del Rey, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup with Los Blancos. Bale started off at Southampton but made his name at Tottenham Hotspur, where his excellent performances piqued the interest of his current club.