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.
23. Nasser Al-Shamrani (31) is considered to be one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of Saudi Arabian football. He began his career with Al-Wehda, where he was part of the team that achieved promotion to the Saudi Premier League. After four years with the Mecca-based club, the incisive forward joined Al-Shabab, with whom he claimed a Saudi Championship, two King Cups of Champions and a Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Cup, while topping the league scoring charts five times. He later moved to Al-Hilal, going on to contest the final of the 2014 AFC Champions League, a tournament in which he scored ten goals, putting himself in line for the Asian Footballer of the Year award in the process. Al-Shamrani has also shone on the international stage, representing Saudi Arabia at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, where the Green Falcons lost to Iraq in the final, and again four years later in Qatar, although he made just two appearances during that competition. The Asian striker is hopeful of competing in the continental event for a third time at Australia 2015.
24. Bulent Korkmaz (46) starred for Turkey at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, where he played six matches and scored one goal during the team’s unexpected run to the semi-finals. The influential defender also participated in UEFA EURO 1996 and in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, where the Turks finished third. Korkmaz remained a loyal servant of Galatasaray for the entirety of his career, becoming a firm favourite with the fans and bagging numerous trophies, including eight Turkish League crowns, six Turkish Cups, five Turkish Super Cups, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. After hanging up his boots, the former centre-back coached several high-profile sides in his homeland, such as Genclerbirligi, Bursaspor and Galatasaray.
25. El Arbi Soudani (27) helped Algeria reach the Round of 16 of the World Cup for the first time at Brazil 2014, where he played in three of his country’s matches. During the qualifying campaign for the celebrated event, the North African attacker notched three goals in seven games. In 2013, he made his CAF Africa Cup of Nations debut. Soudani came through the ranks at ASO Chlef, earning an Algerian League winners’ medal and finishing top scorer in season 2010/11. A subsequent move to Vitoria Guimaraes saw him lift the 2013 Portuguese Cup. Shortly afterwards, the Algerian front man signed for Dinamo Zagreb, where he has since secured the Croatian League title and Croatian Super Cup.
26. Hanna Marklund (37) appeared for Sweden at three FIFA Women’s World Cup™ competitions: in 1999, in 2003, where she finished third, and in 2007. The highly regarded defender also took part in two Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments, at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, and two UEFA European Women's Championships, reaching the final in 2001.
27. Alexander Kerzhakov (32) defended the colours of Russia at Korea/Japan 2002 and Brazil 2014, scoring a goal at the latter tournament. The wily forward also appeared at EURO 2004 and EURO 2012. He rose to prominence at Zenit St. Petersburg, ending the 2004/05 campaign as the Russian League’s leading goalscorer. After putting pen to paper with Sevilla, he hoisted a UEFA Cup, a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de Espana. Kerzhakov then returned to Russia, pulling on the jerseys of Dynamo Moscow and then Zenit again. During this second spell, the clinical finisher has thus far landed two Russian Championships, a Russian Cup and a Russian Super Cup.
28. Nelson Valdez (31) played for Paraguay at two World Cups, at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, where he and his team-mates were knocked out in the quarter-finals by future champions Spain. In 2011, the energetic striker reached the final of the Copa America, but could not prevent his side from suffering a 3-0 defeat by Uruguay. He previously competed in the 2004 Copa America and the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Valdez started out at Paraguayan outfit Tembetary, where his skills piqued the interest of Werder Bremen. After winning a Bundesliga-DFB Pokal double with Die Werderaner, the South American was transferred to Borussia Dortmund and then to Spanish outfit Hercules. Brief spells then followed at Rubin Kazan, where he hoisted the Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup, as well as at Valencia, Al Jazira (UAE) and Olympiacos, where he enjoyed Greek League success. At the start of this current season, he committed himself to Eintracht Frankfurt.
29. Ryan Giggs (41) was, at the peak of his career, one of football’s biggest stars, despite never having played at a World Cup. The talented Welshman made his name with Manchester United, with whom he turned professional in 1991. He would go on to make over 900 appearances for the Red Devils, achieving a legendary status up until his recent retirement at the age of 40. Following a temporary stint as caretaker manager earlier this year, he took up the role of assistant to Louis van Gaal. In his 24 seasons at Old Trafford, the skilful winger scooped 13 English League crowns, four FA Cups, three English League Cups, nine FA Community Shields, two UEFA Champions League titles, a UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. Giggs, a two-time winner of the Welsh Player of Year award, also captained Great Britain at the 2012 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in London.