In our regular Sunday feature, FIFA.com presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
28. Juan Mata(25) can look back with great pride at the success he has enjoyed with Spain and Chelsea over the past few years. After winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, he emerged victorious two years later at UEFA EURO 2012. In addition, he was in La Roja squad that claimed third place at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009. Mata rose to international prominence during his nation’s triumphant 2006 UEFA European U-19 Championship campaign, and later played at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup as well. In 2011, he won the UEFA European U-21 Championship, an achievement that earned him the right to participate in the Olympic Football Tournament in London last summer, and he is currently heavily involved in Spain’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. The attacking midfielder started out in Real Madrid’s reserve team, before signing for Valencia, where won the Copa del Rey. After building an impressive reputation in La Liga, he committed himself to Chelsea, with whom he has since secured the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. At the end of last year, Mata took part in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, but could not prevent his team-mates from losing the title decider against Corinthians.
29. Hedvig Lindahl(30) has played a key role in the development of women’s football in Sweden, helping her country to claim third place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. The reliable goalkeeper also appeared at China 2007 and the Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments of 2008 and 2012, as well as at two UEFA Women’s EURO tournaments, in 2005 and 2009. At club level, Lindahl has pulled on the jerseys of Varmbol, Tunafors, Malmo, Linkopings, Kopparbergs/Goteborg and Kristianstads.
30. Maycon(36) played at three FIFA Women’s World Cups for Brazil, finishing third in 1999, reaching the quarter-finals in 2003 and attaining the Final in 2007. The skilful midfielder also twice ended up on the losing side in Olympic finals, suffering defeat to the United States on both occasions (2004 and 2008).
1. Darijo Srna(31) showed the full range of his footballing abilities while playing for Croatia, with whom he took part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and in the last three UEFA EUROs. The right-sided dead-ball specialist turned professional at Hajduk Split, where he hoisted two Croatian Cups. After putting pen to paper with Shakhtar Donetsk in 2003, he has since become one of the lynchpins of the side, winning six Ukrainian League titles, four Ukrainian Cups, four Ukrainian Super Cups and a UEFA Cup.
2. Ahmed Hassan(38) is a living legend of Egyptian football, having inspired the Pharaohs to glory at four of the seven CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in which he has competed. The midfielder also appeared at two FIFA Confederations Cups, in 1999 and 2009. After coming through the ranks at Egyptian outfit Aswan, he moved to Ismaily, where he landed his first piece of major silverware in the form of the Egyptian Cup. He subsequently packed his bags for Turkey, turning out for four clubs – Kocaelispor, Denizlispor, Genclerbirligi and Besiktas, with whom he won the Turkish Cup – during an eight-year period. Following a transfer to Anderlecht, the African playmaker imposed himself in Belgium, leading Les Mauves et Blancs to Belgian league, cup and Super Cup success. Hassan then decided to return home, signing for Cairo heavyweights Al Ahly, where he added three Egyptian championships, two Egyptian Super Cups and the CAF Champions League to his footballing CV, and partook in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2008. He presently plays for Zamalek, Al Ahly’s great rivals. Hassan was twice named Player of the Tournament at the Africa Cup of Nations, and holds the world record for international caps, having appeared for his country no fewer than 178 times.
3. Bernd Forster(57) was part of the West Germany squad that captured the UEFA European Championship trophy in 1980, their second triumph in the continental competition. The rangy defender then played in the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final two years later, but could not prevent his team-mates from succumbing to a 3-1 loss to Italy. He brought down the curtain on his international career at the end of UEFA European Championship 1984. Forster started out at Waldhof Mannheim, where his fine performances attracted the interest of Bayern Munich, with whom he earned winners’ medals in two European Cups and the Intercontinental Cup. After two seasons with Saarbrucken, he joined Stuttgart, where he would go on to win the Bundesliga title in 1984.
4. Cesc Fabregas(26) was instrumental in Spain’s UEFA EURO 2012 victory, which brought his tally of international honours to three, after the 2010 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2008. He also achieved a third-place finish at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and took part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. Earlier in his career, he played a crucial role in La Roja’s run to the final of the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he picked up both the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards. Two years later, the incisive midfield man appeared at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Fabregas was Arsenal’s youngest ever first-team player, but his tender years did not prevent him from establishing himself in the team and lifting trophies such as the FA Cup and the Community Shield, or from eventually wearing the captain’s armband. In 2011, a burning desire for silverware saw the attack-minded Spaniard join Barcelona, the club with which he had spent several years as a youth player*. *The desired trophies were not slow in coming, as he has already netted a Spanish Cup, a Spanish Super Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup with the Catalan giants. He is currently on the verge of attaining his first La Liga winners’ medal, which would cap off a wonderful year for the former Gunner, who recently became a father.