In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.compresents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
18. Marcel Witeczek(47) represented Germany in the 1985 FIFA U-17 World Cup, losing to Nigeria in the final and scoring eight goals that earned him the adidas Golden Ball, and in the 1987 FIFA U-20 World Cup, reaching another final versus Yugoslavia and picking up another Golden Ball award (for seven goals, this time around). The attacking midfielder started out at Bayer Uerdingen, before moving to Kaiserslautern and then Bayern Munich, where he captured two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Cup. After a six-season spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, he saw out the rest of his playing days at Wattenscheid, a club he would later coach.
19. Jorge Valdivia(32) emerged victorious from the 2015 Copa America with Chile, the first time his country had claimed the continental crown. The skilful playmaker, one of the mainstays of the team, also pulled on the jersey of La Roja at two FIFA World Cup™ tournaments (in 2010 and 2014) and at two previous Copa America contests (2007 and 2011). He came through the ranks at Colo Colo, who loaned him out to Universidad Conception, Rayo Vallecano and Servette. Upon returning to Colo Colo, he won a Chilean League title and secured a transfer to Palmeiras, with whom he landed the Brazilian Cup and Campeonata Paulista. A subsequent stint with Emirati giants Al-Ain saw the Venezuela-born midfielder lift an Emirates Cup, President’s Cup and Super Cup. In 2010, he retraced his footsteps to Palmeiras, where he added a Serie B Championship winners’ medal to his CV. At the start of this current season, Valdivia again packed his bags for the United Arab Emirates in order to sign for Abu Dhabi-based Al-Wahda.
20. Romeo Benetti(70) donned the colours of Italy at West Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978, as well as at UEFA EURO 1980. The solid midfielder spent the entirety of his career in Italian football, starring for, among others, Juventus, where he clinched a Serie A title, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup, and AC Milan, with whom he held aloft two Italian Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. Benetti also enjoyed a successful swansong with Roma, during which he brandished two further Italian Cups.
21. Nemanja Vidic(34) has developed into one of the most proficient defenders in the world over the past few years, a status which bagged him a spot in Serbia’s squads for Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, where he made three appearances. The robust centre-half made his name at Red Star Belgrade, inspiring his team-mates to national league and cup glory. Following a spell at Spartak Moscow, the two-time Serbian Footballer of the Year put pen to paper with Manchester United, where he amassed five Premier League titles, three English League Cups, five FA Community Shields, a UEFA Champions League crown and a FIFA Club World Cup. In the summer of 2014, Vidic committed himself to Inter Milan.
22. Aissa Mandi(24) appeared in three of Algeria’s matches at Brazil 2014, where Les Fennecs qualified for the knockout stages for the very first time. This year, the versatile defender played in four games of his country’s ultimately unsuccessful CAF Africa Cup of Nations campaign. A product of Reims’ youth academy, Mandi established himself in the French outfit's starting XI in 2009.
23. Alvaro Morata(23) recently won a domestic treble (Serie A, Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup) with Juventus and reached the final of the Champions League, during which he notched the equaliser in a 3-1 defeat by Barcelona. The sprightly forward first rose to prominence in Real Madrid’s reserve side, prior to securing a Liga title, two Spanish Cups, a Spanish Super Cup and a Champions League title with the club’s senior team. On the international stage, he competed at the 2009 U-17 World Cup, finishing third, and at the UEFA European U-19 Championships of 2011 and 2003, triumphing and topping the individual scoring charts on both occasions.
24. Cristian Gamboa(26)helped Costa Rica to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, where the Central Americans attained the quarter-finals for the first time. In addition, the speedy full-back participated in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2009 U-20 World Cup, where the Costa Ricans finished fourth. After turning professional with Municipal Liberia, he exported his skills abroad to Fredrikstad and then Copenhagen, with whom he hoisted the Danish Cup. Gamboa subsequently turned out for Norwegian side Rosenborg and current club West Bromwich Albion.