Happy Birthday to you!

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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.

11. Sami Al-Jaber(44) is a legend of Saudi Arabian football, having helped his country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ for the very first time, at USA 1994, where he found the net against Morocco. The prolific striker later played at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, scoring a total of three goals in nine matches. In addition, he took part in the first three FIFA Confederations Cups and in two AFC Asian Cups, lifting the trophy in 1996 and reaching the final in 2000. The Saudi forward starred for Al-Hilal for almost 20 years, racking up a multitude of national and continental honours, including five Saudi League titles, five Crown Prince Cups, an AFC Champions League title, two Asian Cup Winners’ Cups and an Asian Super Cup. After hanging up his boots, Al-Jaber worked as an assistant coach at Al-Hilal and Auxerre, and then took charge of Al-Hilal in his own right. A subsequent spell at the helm of Emirati club Al-Wahda was followed by a return to Saudi Arabia with Al-Shabab.

12. Jessica Landstrom(32) was part of the Sweden squad that captured a bronze medal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, where she made three appearances and scored the winning goal against Colombia in the group stage. The imposing attacker had previously competed at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing and at the 2009 UEFA Women’s Championship. At club level, she claimed two Swedish League titles and a Swedish Cup with Djurgardens, prior to starring for Hammarby and Linkoping, where she amassed a Swedish League title, two Swedish Cups and a Swedish Super Cup. Landstrom then tried her luck in the United States, with Sky Blue, but returned to Europe to sign for FFC Frankfurt, with whom she lifted the German Cup. The Swedish international proceeded to re-sign for Djurgardens and then for Goteborg, where she won yet another Swedish Super Cup.

13. Mark Paston(40) played a key role in New Zealand’s return to the World Cup stage at South Africa 2010 by saving a penalty against Bahrain in the intercontinental play-off. At the tournament proper, the reliable custodian played in all three of his country’s group matches, although the All Whites were eliminated without losing a game. Paston defended the colours of Napier City Rovers, New Zealand Knights and Wellington Phoenix in his homeland, Bradford City and Walsall in England, and St Johnstone in Scotland.

14. Antonio Simoes(73) starred for Portugal at the 1966 World Cup, where he and his team-mates secured a best-ever third-place finish. The left winger participated in six matches at the tournament, scoring against Brazil. Simoes enjoyed great success with Benfica, landing ten Portuguese League crowns, four Portuguese Cups and a European Cup, before pulling on the jerseys of Boston Minutemen, Estoril, San Jose Earthquakes and Dallas Tornado, among others.

15. Allan Simonsen(64) represented Denmark at Mexico 1986, UEFA EURO 1984 and the 1972 Olympic Football Tournament. The talented striker turned professional at Vejle, where he bagged two Danish Championships and a Danish Cup. A transfer to Borussia Monchengladbach saw him add three Bundesliga titles, a German Cup, two UEFA Cups and a European Footballer of the Year award to his CV. The Dane later turned out for Barcelona, where he brandished a Copa del Rey and a European Cup Winners’ Cup, for Charlton Athletic, and for Vejle once more, with whom he clinched another Danish League title. During his career, he topped the scoring charts in European competitions twice: once in the European Cup and once in the UEFA Cup.

16. Lieke Martens(24) was involved in the Netherlands’ maiden appearance at a Women’s World Cup, at Canada 2015, playing in four matches and scoring the winning goal against New Zealand. The incisive midfielder also played at the 2013 Women’s EURO. After starting out at Heerenveen and VVV-Venlo, she joined Standard Liege, where she hoisted the BeNe Super Cup. Martens later played for Duisburg, Goteborg and Rosengard, with whom she held aloft the Swedish Cup and Swedish Super Cup.

17. Thaisa(28) showcased her skills for Brazil at Canada 2015 and at the 2016 Olympic Games, where she appeared in six matches and helped her team to finish fourth. The Parana-born midfielder also contributed to the Brazilians’ triumphs at the 2014 Copa America Femenina and the 2015 Pan-American Games. Thaisa began her career with Foz Cataratas and Ferroviaria, and then embarked on a brief spell with Swedish outfit Tyreso in 2014. She returned to Ferroviaria later that same year.

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