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 during the coming week.

19. Marco Materazzi(39) can look back with pride on a career that saw him lift the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, Italy’s fourth such triumph in the tournament, during which he scored two goals, including one in the closely contested Final with France. Materazzi also took part in Korea/Japan 2002 and the UEFA European Championships of 2004 and 2008. Domestically, the rangy defender enjoyed the majority of his success with Inter Milan, with whom he won five Serie A titles, four Italian Cups and four Italian Super Cups, as well as a UEFA Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup, both of which were achieved in 2010.

20. Laura Georges(28) is one of France’s top female players, and has, since a young age, participated in some of football’s most high-profile competitions. Her first taste of a major international tournament came at the 2002 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, held in Canada, before being promoted to the senior side and taking part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003™. At Germany 2011, she helped her country reach the semi-finals and eventually claim fourth position. The centre-back came extremely close to winning a bronze medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012, an event during which she found the net twice. Georges has also previously appeared at two UEFA European Women’s Championships. At club level, she has played a key role in Lyon’s domination of domestic and European football, winning five French league championships, two French Cups, and two UEFA Women’s Champions League titles, in 2011 and 2012.

21. Antonio Benarrivo(44) is one of the greatest defenders in the history of Italian football, having been part of the side that were unfortunate to lose out on penalty kicks in the Final of USA 1994. He spent most of his career – thirteen seasons – with Parma, picking up winners’ medals in two Italian Cups, an Italian Super Cup, two UEFA Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. The pacey full-back decided to hang up his boots in 2004.

22. Aleksandr Mostovoi(44) is widely recognised as one of the top Russian players of the 20th century. He propelled the Soviet Union to victory in the UEFA European U-21 Championship and then spurred on Russia’s senior side to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup, at USA 1994. He also took part in two European Championships. Mostovoi made his name with Spartak Moscow, securing two Soviet league titles, before leaving his homeland to try his luck elsewhere. The skilful playmaker won the Portuguese League and Cup with Benfica, and after a spell in France with Caen and Strasburg, he signed for Spanish outfit Celta Vigo, where he would eventually remain nine seasons, lifting the UEFA Intertoto Cup and reaching the final of the Copa del Rey, a match Celta lost to Real Zaragoza. Following a short stint at Alaves, he brought down the curtain on a long and eventful career.

23. Glen Johnson(28) has had a noteworthy year, reaching the finals of both English knockout competitions with Liverpool, winning the League Cup and finishing runner-up in the FA Cup, and establishing himself in England’s starting XI at EURO 2012. A defender who gets forward with great assurance, Johnson also represented his country at South Africa 2010. He started out at West Ham, before being transferred to Chelsea, where he won two league championships and a League Cup. He subsequently signed for Portsmouth, with whom he went on to lift the FA Cup. He joined the Reds three years ago.

24. Maya Yoshida(24) has established himself as one of the most proficient defenders Asia has produced in recent times. After having enabled Japan to reclaim the AFC Asian Cup in 2011, he is currently involved in his country’s qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. His leadership qualities saw him handed the chance to captain Japan’s Olympic team at London 2012, during which the Samurai Blue put in some fine displays but failed to obtain a medal. Yoshida came through the ranks at Nagoya Grampus, before signing for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands, where his performances have earned rave reviews since his arrival.

25. Dejan Stankovic(27)has, courtesy of his exploits at the last two FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, become one of the greatest international stars of the specialist discipline. At Dubai 2009, he inspired Switzerland to capture second place behind an all-conquering Brazil side, was awarded the adidas Golden Ball for best player of the tournament, and finished top scorer with sixteen goals to his name. The forward was also instrumental in the Helvetians’ victory at the Euro Beach Soccer Cup in 2005, and he has received numerous individual accolades at the continental competition over the years.

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