In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.compresents you with some of the biggest names from Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
* 9. Jorge Burruchaga* (49) is unlikely to ever forget the moment he found the net against West Germany at the Estadio Azteca in 1986, his goal sealing Argentina’s second FIFA World Cup™ title. Four years later, he dreamed of helping *La Albiceleste *retain their crown but found himself on the losing side in the Final as the same opponents secured victory with a late penalty. A brilliant midfielder, Burruchaga was also blessed with an eye for goal, which he proved by taking the top scorer honours at the 1983 Copa America. He began his career with Argentinian sides Arsenal and Independiente before crossing the Atlantic and turning out for Nantes, ahead of a spell elsewhere in France with Valenciennes. He later returned to Argentina and saw out his playing days at Independiente, one of the clubs he has since coached along with Arsenal, Estudiantes, Banfield and Paraguayan outfit Libertad.
10. Yasser Al-Qahtani (29) is one of the most accomplished Saudi Arabian strikers of the last ten years. He played his part as Saudi Arabia clinched a spot at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and left his mark on the tournament by registering during their draw with Tunisia. A year later, he wore the captain’s armband as the Sons of the Desert advanced all the way to the final of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, where they eventually succumbed to Iraq. Despite that disappointment, Al-Qahtani finished the tournament as joint leading marksman, and he was also named AFC Asian Footballer of the Year for 2007, career highlights he can look back on with pride in addition to his triumphs in the Gulf Cup of Nations and Arab Nations Cup. On the club stage, the forward started out with Al Qadisiyah and from there joined Al Hilal, amassing four league titles and a quartet of Saudi Crown Prince Cups before opting for a new adventure this season with United Arab Emirates side Al Ain.
11. Sir Bobby Charlton (74) is a genuine legend of the global game, having helped steer England to FIFA World Cup glory on home soil in 1966. He was also an unused member of the Three Lions’ squad at Sweden 1958 and an active one at Chile 1962 and Mexico 1970, while similarly serving the team’s cause at the 1968 UEFA European Championship in Italy. Sir Bobby first made a name for himself in the colours of Manchester United, making his breakthrough at a young age and going on to win three championship crowns, an FA Cup, four FA Charity Shields and, above all, the European Champions’ Club Cup in 1968, when United memorably saw off Benfica in the showpiece. The midfielder racked up a long list of personal honours too, including English and European Player of the Year in 1966, and top scorer in the European Cup. He was likewise named in the official All-Star Team at England 1966 and Mexico 1970, and was later selected for the FIFA World Cup all-time team and the FIFA 100. In addition, France Football magazine singled him out as Europe’s Player of the Century, while his exceptional performances earned him recognition as one of Manchester United’s 50 best ever footballers. After years of loyal service to the Red Devils, Sir Bobby signed for Preston North End and then Waterford United, before moving to Australia to turn out for Newcastle KB United. He finally called time on his superlative career at Blacktown City.
12. Wim Jonk (45) played his part as the Netherlands excelled at USA 1994 and France 1998, featuring in 11 encounters and weighing in with two goals on American soil. At the latter tournament, Jonk and Co found their route to the decider blocked by Brazil in the semi-finals before finishing fourth behind Croatia. The midfielder also contested the 1992 European Championship in Sweden, where the *Oranje *were similarly unable to reach beyond the last four, losing to Germany. Jonk took his first steps in the game at his hometown club Volendam and began to build his reputation after agreeing terms with Ajax, where he won an Eredivisie title, a Dutch Cup and the UEFA Cup. Inter Milan snapped up his services and he claimed another UEFA Cup at the San Siro, before returning to the Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven to add a further league crown, a Dutch Cup and three Dutch Super Cups. He eventually hung up his boots while at Sheffield Wednesday in England.
13. Antonio Di Natale (34) has enjoyed a sensational late rise to prominence with Udinese, finishing top scorer in Serie A for the last two seasons. His eye for goal even helped the Stadio Friuli side reach the UEFA Champions League play-offs this term, though they fell just short of earning a place in the group stage. Di Natale has been a first-choice forward for Italy since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when La Squadra Azzurra’s early exit left the archetypal fox in the box devastated.
14. Antonios Nikopolidis (40) hit the heights when his performances between the posts proved a vital ingredient in Greece’s surprise success at EURO 2004. The goalkeeper and his team-mates shocked the watching world to claim the continental title in Portugal and Nikopolidis was promptly selected for the official Team of the Tournament. Blessed with strong hands, he also wore the gloves during Greece’s 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup campaign in Germany, the capable No1 having come a long way since beginning his career at Anagennisi Arta. From there, he signed for Panathinaikos and won no fewer than five Greek titles, five Greek Cups and two Greek Super Cups during a 15-year spell, which ended when he joined Olympiacos, where another six championship crowns, four Greek Cups and an additional Greek Super Cup followed. Unsurprisingly, he was named Greek Goalkeeper of the Year on four separate occasions.
15. Didier Deschamps (43) will long be remembered as the captain of the France side that hoisted the FIFA World Cup Trophy aloft at the Stade de France in 1998. A holding midfielder, he made a telling contribution to the defensive rigour of Aime Jacquet’s line-up, while also making a difference in attacking areas, and he experienced further success two years later when* Les Bleus* tasted success at EURO 2000. Deschamps emerged on to the scene at Nantes, where he gained his first experience of captaining and soon attracted admiring glances from Marseille, for whom he went on to clinch two French titles and the Champions League, OM defeating AC Milan in Munich in 1993. Juventus came calling a year later and their new recruit continued adding to his medal collection, helping claim three Serie A crowns, a Coppa Italia, two Italian Super Cups and another Champions League triumph as *Juve *saw off Ajax in 1996 – a year in which they also won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Still hungry for fresh adventure, Deschamps then packed his bags for Chelsea, where he lifted the FA Cup before ending his playing career at Valencia. Given his extraordinary leadership skills, it was perhaps inevitable that he would subsequently turn to coaching, and he made an instant impact in his new role, steering Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final, which they lost to Porto, as well as leading them to victory in the French League Cup and runners-up spot in Ligue 1. After that, his old club *Juve *entrusted him with navigating them back into the top flight, and, after he secured the Serie B title, he opted for a return to Marseille, going on to win the league, League Cup and Trophy of Champions in his first two seasons. He is still in charge at the Stade Velodrome.