In our regular Sunday feature, we bring you the names of some of the best-known figures on Planet Football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.
6. Coming as he does from a country where St. Nicholas’ Day means gifts and candy if you’ve been good over the past year, UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup winner Joerg Heinrich (40) should receive two batches of presents on Sunday. At the time of his switch from Borussia Dortmund to Fiorentina in 1998, Heinrich commanded a record fee for a German player of 25 million DM. Another man passing a milestone is Australia star Tim Cahill (30), who will be a lynchpin of the Socceroos’ campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. From an earlier generation, Tony Woodcock (54) featured at the UEFA EURO 1980 and the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
7. Ladies first, as they say, so a birthday girl kicks off today’s list with Germany international Linda Bresonik. The 26-year-old is already a double world and European champion, and will naturally hope to play her part at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil. Her fellow-countryman and Germany squad player Clemens Fritz (29) also celebrates today. In England, towering defender and Chelsea skipper John Terry (29) recently chalked up his 300th game for the men in blue. Congratulations today too to South Africa striker Delron Buckley (32), hoping for a third appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals after previously starring in 1998 and 2002.
8. Twins are rare enough in normal life, and even more of a rarity as top professional footballers, so warmest congratulations to Turkey regulars Hamit and Halil Altintop on their 27th birthday. Our oldest featured personality this week is Sir Geoff Hurst, who turns 68 today. The former West Ham and Stoke City goal-getter is the only man to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup Final. Sir Geoff did just that in England’s 1966 triumph over Germany at Wembley.
9. Another FIFA World Cup winner, Bixente Lizarazu (40), will be blowing out the candles today. The former France and Bayern stalwart boasts a stunning career record, also including the UEFA EURO 2000 triumph, a Champions League winners' medal, multiple Bundesliga titles, and more besides. The diminutive 1.69 metre Basque is now a TV expert and eco-activist in France.
10. Hertha Berlin coach Friedhelm Funkel (56) has reason to celebrate personally but has precious little to cheer from a sporting point of view. His side lie hopelessly adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga table following a grisly start to the campaign. The omens are not good either: no club has ever escaped the drop after collecting just five points from their first 14 matches. As a player, Funkel fired 83 goals in 300 Bundesliga appearances.
11. The Legend: that’s how his fans reverently refer to Sami Al Jaber, and the Saudi Arabia superstar has no objections. "I like the nickname," he says. Al Jaber, who is 37 today, has a record 181 international caps to his name. Other players celebrating today include Mohamed Zidan (28), Javier Saviola (28) and Fabrizio Ravanelli (41). The last-named will always be best-remembered for his nickname la penna bianca (The White Feather) on account of his prematurely grey hair – a family trait, apparently.
12. There are ten years between Saturday’s birthday boys Daniel Agger (25) and Nolberto Solano (35) but both will doubtless mark the big day with presents and a party. Liverpool’s Danish centre-back is a certainty to marshal his country’s defensive line at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The older of the pair will not be in action next summer, as the Peru captain and his men missed out in qualifying.