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.
16. Tina Svensson (48) represented Norway at the first two FIFA Women’s World Cup™ tournaments, reaching the final at China 1991 and emerging victorious at Sweden 1995. The solid defender played in a total of 12 matches at the prestigious event, scoring four goals. In addition, she took part in two UEFA Women’s Championships, lifting the trophy in 1993, and in the 1996 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta, where the Norwegians earned a bronze medal.
17. Frank van Hattum (56) played a key role in the New Zealand national team’s two FIFA World Cup™ appearances, first in 1982 as goalkeeper, and then in 2010 as chairman of the New Zealand Football Board. During his playing career, the respected shot-stopper turned out for several clubs in his homeland, including Manurewa, Christchurch United and Papatoetoe. At the beginning of 2014, Van Hattum resigned from his administrative post to pursue other interests.
18. Darko Kovacevic (41) competed at France 1998 and UEFA EURO 2000 with Yugoslavia. The powerful striker rose to prominence at Red Star Belgrade, with whom he secured a Yugoslav League title and two Yugoslav Cups, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday and then Real Sociedad. Following a two-year spell at Juventus, during which he captured the UEFA Intertoto Cup, the Kovin-born forward went on to star for Lazio, Real Sociedad again and Olympiacos, where he bagged two Greek Super League crowns, two Greek Cups and a Greek Super Cup. Kovacevic twice finished top of the UEFA Cup scoring charts – once with La Real and once with La Vecchia Signora.
19. Laurent Blanc (49) has done his coaching reputation no harm whatsoever over the past year, steering Paris Saint-Germain to a Ligue 1 title, a French League Cup and two Trophees des champions. The French tactician had previously excelled at Bordeaux, where he guided his charges to Ligue 1, French League Cup and Trophee des champions glory. He also took charge of the French national side at EURO 2012. Blanc enjoyed a remarkable playing career, triumphing at the 1998 World Cup on home soil and at EURO 2000. At club level, the composed defender pulled on the jerseys of Montpellier, where he won a French Cup and a French Player of the Year award, Napoli, Nimes, Saint-Etienne and Auxerre, with whom he landed a French League and Cup double under the tutelage of Guy Roux. That success piqued the interest of Barcelona, who acquired the unrufflable centre-back’s services in 1996 and provided him with the opportunity to hold aloft the Copa del Rey, the SuperCopa de Espana and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, although he missed the latter final through injury. He later played for Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United, where he gained a Premier League winners’ medal.
20. Eduardo Vargas (25) appeared for Chile at the 2014 World Cup, four years after making his international debut. In Brazil, the fast-improving front man scored against Spain in the group stage, contributing to the South Americans’ run to the Round of 16, where they came close to eliminating the host nation. A product of Cobreloa’s youth academy, the Chilean attacker established himself in the senior XI of the Calama-based club, where his performances attracted the attention of Universidad de Chile. He would go on to collect two Chilean League titles, a Copa Sudamericana and a Chilean Footballer of the Year award with the Santiago giants, prior to exporting his goalscoring skills to Napoli, where he hoisted the Coppa Italia. Vargas has since enjoyed productive loan stints with Gremio, Valencia and current side Queens Park Rangers.
21. Cyd Gray (38) participated in Trinidad and Tobago’s only World Cup venture to date, at Germany 2006, where he played against England and Sweden. The defender also took part in the Soca Warriors’ qualifying campaigns for Korea/Japan 2002 and South Africa 2010, as well as in the 2002 and 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cups.
22. Torsten Frings (38) defended the colours of Germany at two World Cups: in 2002, where he ended up with a runners-up medal, and in 2006, where he and his team-mates finished third. Sandwiched in between those two competitions, the tough-tackling midfielder claimed third place at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. He also competed on the continental stage, at EURO 2004 and EURO 2008, where Die Nationalelf attended the final. Frings spent most of his career in Germany with clubs such as Alemannia Aachen and Werder Bremen, with whom he brandished two German Cups and a German League Cup. Following an interlude at Borussia Dortmund, the versatile German signed for Bayern Munich, subsequently adding a Bundesliga title and two further national cups to his footballing CV. He later enjoyed a swansong with MLS outfit Toronto FC, winning the Canadian Championship in 2012. After hanging up his boots, the former international joined the coaching staff at Werder Bremen.