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.
Youssef Al Tunayan (49) played a large part in Saudi Arabia’s qualification for the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™, where he made two appearances and scored against South Africa. He played in the FIFA Confederations Cup that took place on Saudi Arabian soil in 1992, but it was in the AFC Nations Cup that he truly sparkled, helping the Green Falcons to claim the continental title in 1988 and 1996, and to finish runners-up in 1992. Al Tunayan made a name for himself at a tender age, showing off his obvious talents in youth tournaments. From 1983 until his retirement over two decades later, the attacking midfielder remained a loyal servant of Al Hilal, earning a host of national and continental honours along the way.
Rodrigo Tabata (32) has enjoyed a productive club career, even though he has never been capped by his native country, Brazil. He started out at Paulista, where he lifted the U-20 Sao Paolo Cup, and after short spells at a handful of other Brazilian clubs, he joined Santos, with whom he won two consecutive Sao Paolo state championships. The midfield man subsequently tried his luck in Turkey, where he turned out for Gaziantepspor and Besiktas. After signing for Qatari outfit Al Rayyan, his fine form saw him emerge as one of the league’s top players and propel his side to success in the Emir of Qatar Cup, the Qatar Crown Prince Cup and the Sheikh Jassem Cup. Tabata capped off last season in style by being named Qatar’s Player of the Year.
Abby Erceg (23) may still be relatively young, but she has already gained a taste of major international competitions on numerous occasions. She represented New Zealand at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, in 2007 and 2011, at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2006 and 2008, and at the Olympic Women’s Football Tournaments of 2008 and 2012. At club level, Erceg has previously defended the colours of Western Springs and Fencibles United, and now plays for Adelaide United.
Jesus Navas (27) was a member of the Spain squad that captured the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, where he participated in three matches, including the victorious and historic Final against the Netherlands. He has since remained part of the national set-up, adding a UEFA EURO 2012 winners’ medal to his personal display cabinet. Navas was a key component of the Sevilla team that rose to prominence in the mid-2000s, securing two UEFA Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup.
Asamoah Gyan (27) has, over the past few seasons, established himself as one of the most dangerous African strikers in the game. He helped Ghana to advance to their first-ever FIFA World Cup, at Germany 2006. During the competition proper, he became the first Black Stars representative to score at that level, and he followed it up with three more goals four years later at South Africa 2010: an opening-match winner against Serbia, an equaliser in the second group match with Australia and an impressive individual effort against USA that sent the Africans into the quarter-finals. During the last-eight clash with Uruguay, the Ghanaian attacker was unfortunate to miss a last-minute penalty that would almost certainly have qualified his side for the semi-finals. He has taken part in the last three CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, finishing third in 2008, second in 2010 and fourth in 2012. Gyan originally came through the ranks of Liberty Professionals in his homeland, before packing his bags for Italy, where he played for Udinese and Modena. After stints with Rennes and Sunderland, he joined UAE heavyweights Al Ain. During an initial loan period, the explosive forward finished top scorer in the domestic league, helping his new employers to become national champions in the process. At the beginning of this current season, Gyan signed a permanent contract with the club.
Willian (21) made a significant contribution to Brazil’s fifth FIFA U-20 World Cup triumph, at Colombia 2011. He played in every match of the event, scoring two goals. Prior to that success, he held aloft the U-20 Copa America, during which he was also an ever-present, finding the back of the net three times. The rising star of Brazilian football made his professional debut with Barueri, before putting pen to paper with Sao Paulo in 2011.
Otto Pfister (75) has built a strong reputation as a coach in Asia and Africa, overseeing numerous national teams and clubs on both continents. Arguably his most celebrated achievement came in 1991, when he guided Ghana to FIFA U-17 World Cup glory. He was subsequently handed the reins of the senior Ghanaian side ahead of the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations, but could not prevent his charges from losing a marathon penalty shoot-out in the final with Côte d'Ivoire. He later took charge of Togo, inspiring the West Africans to reach Germany 2006, their first appearance at FIFA’s flagship tournament. He then led Cameroon to the final of the 2008 Cup of Nations, but again saw his players fall at the final hurdle, this time losing out to Egypt. Pfister enjoyed equally varied coaching spells in Asia, the highlight of which was undoubtedly negotiating Saudi Arabia’s passage to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, after having previously pulled the strings during their 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup campaign. Although he parted company with the Green Eagles prior to France 1998, he was reappointed in time to engineer a triumph at the Arab Nations Cup later that same year. At club level, he won five Egyptian league titles with Zamalek, the Tunisian League Cup with CS Sfaxien, three Lebanese championships with Nejmeh, and the Sudanese national title with Al Merreikh, a club he also guided to the CAF Confederations Cup final. Pfister began his footballing career as a striker with Viktoria Cologne and also played for now-defunct city rivals VfL Cologne, before spending the remainder of his playing days representing various clubs in the Swiss leagues.