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.
10. Javier Zanetti (41) retired from football at the end of last season, having enjoyed a legendary career with Inter Milan and Argentina. The tireless full-back competed with La Albiceleste in the FIFA World Cup™ tournaments of 1998 and 2002, the FIFA Confederations Cups of 1995 and 2005, reaching the final on both occasions, five Copa America competitions (where he also played in two finals) and the 1996 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta, where he earned a silver medal. After starting out at Talleres and Banfield in Argentina, the influential defender signed for Inter in 1995, a club he would serve with distinction for almost two decades. In his time with I Nerazzurri, Zanetti won five Serie A titles, four Italian Cups, four Italian Super Cups, a UEFA Cup, a UEFA Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup. Despite having hung up his boots, he is still employed by the Lombardy club, currently fulfilling the role of vice-president.
11. Walter Ayovi (35) was involved in all three of Ecuador’s group matches at Brazil 2014, after having already played a critical role in La Tri’s successful qualifying campaign. The left-sided South American was also part of his country’s squad at Korea/Japan 2002 and at two Copa America events. At club level, he began his career with Emelec, where he claimed two Ecuadorian League titles. Spells at Guayaquil-based Barcelona and Emirati outfit Al Wasl were followed by two seasons at El Nacional, where he gained another league winners’ medal. In 2009, Ayovi joined Monterrey, with whom he sealed two Mexican Championships and three CONCACAF Champions League crowns, and participated in two Club World Cups. He currently plays for Pachuca.
12. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (31) secured a runners-up medal at South Africa 2010 and a third-placed finish at Brazil 2014 with the Netherlands. The clinical striker also appeared at the UEFA European Championships of 2008 and 2012, the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the UEFA European U-21 Championship, where he topped the scoring charts as the Dutch lifted the trophy. The penalty-box specialist came through the ranks at PSV Eindhoven, prior to embarking on loan stints at De Graafschap and AGOVV. Two subsequent campaigns at Heerenveen sparked the interest of Ajax, who acquired his services in 2006. Huntelaar experienced great success with the Amsterdam outfit, clinching two Eredivisie titles and two Dutch Super Cups, before turning out for Real Madrid, AC Milan and his current club, Schalke, where he has since hoisted the DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup. In terms of individual accolades, the talented Dutchman has finished top scorer in European leagues three times, twice in the Netherlands and once in Germany.
13. Elodie Thomis (28) represented France at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, making six appearances and contributing to her side’s final placing of fourth, a feat Les Bleuettes repeated at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London the following year. In addition, the speedy winger starred at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, three UEFA European Women’s Championships and the 2003 UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship, where the French emerged victorious. A graduate of the CNFE Clairefontaine academy, Thomis put pen to paper with Montpellier in 2005, with whom she held aloft the Coupe de France Feminin. The attack-minded Frenchwoman’s performances piqued the curiosity of Lyon, with whom she has since scooped five Division 1 titles, two French Cups and two UEFA Women’s Champions League crowns.
14. Giorgio Chiellini (30) is part of a long line of robust Italian defenders, a status that helped him to establish himself in La Nazionale’s starting XI and appear at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, as well as at the 2009 and 2013 Confederations Cups, finishing third at the latter contest. The Pisa-born international also took part in two European Championships, reaching the quarter-finals in 2008 and losing in the final versus Spain in 2012. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, he picked up a bronze medal. Chiellini turned professional at Livorno, before pulling on the jerseys of Fiorentina and then Juventus. Since arriving in Turin in 2005, the commanding centre-half has bagged a Serie B title, three Serie A Championships and two Italian Super Cups.
15. Bernard Lacombe (62) was a key component of the French teams that partook in Argentina 1978 and Spain 1982, where he and his team-mates finished fourth. Two years later, the prolific forward contributed to Les Bleus’ historic EURO 1984 triumph, the nation’s first major international trophy. Domestically, Lacombe defended the colours of Lyon, with whom he brandished the French Cup and the Trophee des champions, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux, where he added three French League titles, a French Cup and a Trophee des champions to his footballing CV. Following his retirement as a player, he coached Lyon between 1996 and 2000.
16. Moussa Sissoko (25) took part in four of France’s matches at Brazil 2014, managing to get on the scoresheet in one of them despite his role of holding midfielder. Following the tournament, most observers agreed that the Paris native’s physical presence and solid technique look likely to guarantee him a berth in the national squad for some time to come. Sissoko started out at Toulouse, where he spent six productive seasons, but decided to export his skills to Newcastle United in the summer of 2013.