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.
1. Olaf Thon (50) helped Germany to a third FIFA World Cup™ triumph at Italy 1990. The composed midfielder was also selected for his country’s squad for Mexico 1986, but did not see any playing time, and for France 1998, where he took part in three matches. He was also ever-present in the German side that reached the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 1988. A product of Schalke’s youth system, the versatile performer established himself in the Gelsenkirchen club’s first team prior to joining Bayern Munich, where he won three Bundesliga titles and a German Super Cup. Thon subsequently returned to Schalke, with whom he lifted two German Cups and a UEFA Cup.
2. Luigi Apolloni (49) took part in three matches for Italy at USA 1994, including the Final, which La Nazionale lost on penalties to Brazil. Two years later, the imposing defender competed at EURO 1996. After early spells with Pistoiese and Reggiana, he put pen to paper with Parma, where he racked up two Italian Cups, an Italian Super Cup, two UEFA Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup over 13 seasons. Apolloni then saw out the remainder of his career at Hellas Verona, before moving into coaching and taking the reins of several Italian teams, including Parma, his latest challenge.
3. Leopoldo Luque (67) was part of the Argentina side that captured the 1978 World Cup on home soil, making five appearances and notching four goals. The bustling striker had previously topped the scoring charts at the 1975 Copa America. Luque donned the jerseys of several clubs during his career, such as River Plate, with whom he landed five Argentinian League titles, Rosario Central, Racing Club and Santos.
4. Kike (38) played in a total of 170 matches for Spain’s national futsal team, appearing at the last four FIFA Futsal World Cups, from which he emerged victorious on two occasions (in 2000 and 2004). The defender, who was awarded the adidas Silver Ball at Thailand 2012, appeared 27 times at the prestigious tournament, scoring five goals. He also enjoyed success at five UEFA Futsal Championships. At club level, the Spaniard amassed four league titles, three Spanish Cups and three Spanish Super Cups with ElPozo Murcia.
5. Bo Larsson (72) made 11 appearances at three successive World Cups with Sweden: Mexico 1970, West Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978. In qualifying campaigns, the attack-minded Scandinavian scored eight goals in 12 encounters. Regarded as a legend at Malmo, the club with which he clinched six Swedish League titles and four Swedish Cups, Larsson finished top scorer three times. The two-time Swedish Footballer of the Year also turned out for Stuttgart and Trelleborgs.
6. Dries Mertens (29) propelled Belgium to the 2014 World Cup, where he and his team-mates reached the quarter-finals. The explosive winger participated in five matches in Brazil, netting Les Diables Rouges’ winner versus Algeria in the group stage. He started off at Gent, who loaned him out to Eendracht Aalst and AGOVV. After joining the latter permanently, he signed for Utrecht and then PSV Eindhoven, where he rose to wider prominence and hoisted the Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup. In 2013, Mertens committed himself to Napoli, with whom he has since claimed the Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup.
7. Julio dos Santos (33) represented Paraguay at the 2006 World Cup and at the 2004 and 2007 Copa America contests. A participant at the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the attacking midfielder began his career with Cerro Porteno, where he picked up three Paraguayan League titles and a Paraguayan Footballer of the Year award. He then attracted the interest of European heavyweights such as Bayern Munich, with whom he claimed a Bundesliga crown and a German Cup. The Asuncion native later played for Wolfsburg, Almeria and Gremio on loan from Bayern, before securing a permanent deal with Atletico Paranaense, where won the Parana State Championship. Dos Santos then returned to Cerro Porteno, where he bagged two further league titles and finished joint top scorer in the Copa Libertadores. Last year, the creative South American moved to Vasco da Gama.