Happy birthday to you!

Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho greets fans before the start of his first match

In our regular Sunday feature, presents some of the biggest names from Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.

20.* Francileudo dos Santos* (32) may have been born in Brazil but he has made a big impact in his adopted Tunisia, having taken up citizenship after finishing top scorer in the Tunisian championship with Etoile Sahel. The Carthage Eagles were quick to pinpoint the forward as the solution to their woes up front and he helped the side win their first continental crown in 2004, notching up a goal tally that placed him among the competition’s most prolific marksmen. Santos also took part in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, as well as two more editions of the CAF African Cup of Nations. In the club arena, the striker made a splash in France with Sochaux and Toulouse.

21. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, better known as Ronaldinho (31), still dreams of representing Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he hopes to add another winners’ medal to his impressive collection. Since announcing his arrival at the CONMEBOL Copa America in 1999, he has thrilled supporters during an exceptional career, helping Brazil claim the global title in 2002 and being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, not to mention receiving the Ballon d’Or in the latter year. Ronaldinho enjoyed a successful stint with Barcelona too, winning the UEFA Champions League in 2006 and Liga titles in 2005 and 2006. From there, the former Paris Saint-Germain forward signed for AC Milan, until homesickness prompted a January return home to Flamengo, with whom he has already claimed the Taca Guanabara.

22. Walter Samuel (33) can pride himself on a glittering array of honours. The solid centre-back has experienced most of his success in Italy, winning one Serie A title with Roma and five with Inter Milan, as well as an Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups. In 2010, he helped I Nerazzurri complete a historic treble as they tasted glory in the league, cup and UEFA Champions League. Samuel has also turned out for Boca Juniors and Real Madrid, as well as gracing two FIFA World Cups for Argentina.

23.Mokhtar Dhouib (59) etched his name in Tunisian football history by featuring in the first ever victory for an Arab side during a FIFA World Cup, at Argentina 1978. Known for his powerful physical presence, the former CS Sfaxien defender struck his team’s third goal as Tunisia defeated Mexico 3-1.

24.Ramires (24) has earned himself a starting berth for Brazil after shining for the country’s Olympic team. A FIFA Confederations Cup winner in 2009, he turned out for A Seleção during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, and the young defensive midfielder looks certain to be a key figure in the lead-up to the 2014 edition. His impressive talents caught the eye of Chelsea too, and he joined the Stamford Bridge outfit from Benfica last summer.

25.Roberto Acuna (39) remains a popular figure in his native Paraguay, being one of only a select band of players to have appeared in three consecutive FIFA World Cups: France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. A midfielder by trade, he won plaudits for his excellent understanding of the game and refined technique, skills that served him well with Boca Juniors and Independiente in Argentina and Spanish clubs Deportivo La Coruna and Real Zaragoza, before he ended his career on home soil.

26.Paul Bosvelt (41) enjoyed only limited opportunities to prove his worth with the Netherlands, spending far more time on the Oranje bench than in the team. He nonetheless played at both UEFA EURO 2000 and EURO 2004, while in the club realm he clinched an Eredivisie title and the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord. Bosvelt also represented Twente and Heerenveen in the Dutch top flight, joining the latter in 2005 after a two-year spell at Manchester City. He spent the twilight of his career at the club where it all began for him, Go Ahead Eagles, later coaching the Deventer outfit after hanging up his boots.

Explore this topic

Recommended Stories