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.
18. Riccardo Montolivo (30) is one of Italy’s top defensive midfielders, a status that led to him starring at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but not at Brazil 2014, which he missed due to an untimely injury. He also finished third at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and second at UEFA EURO 2012. In addition, he represented La Nazionale at the 2008 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. At club level, the Caravaggio native started out at Atalanta, before rising to prominence at Fiorentina and then AC Milan. Montolivo was named Serie A Young Footballer of the Year in 2007.
19. Steffen Freund (45) was part of the Germany team that triumphed at EURO 1996, having previously appeared at the 1989 FIFA U-20 World Cup. The tough-tackling defensive midfielder enjoyed his greatest years at Borussia Dortmund, securing the club’s first-ever UEFA Champions League title and Intercontinental Cup, as well as two Bundesliga crowns. He also defended the colours of Schalke, Kaiserslautern and Tottenham Hotspur, with whom he lifted the English League Cup. After seeing out the remainder of his career with Leicester City, Freund fulfilled the role of assistant coach to Berti Vogts, first with Nigeria during the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, and then with Azerbaijan. He subsequently took the helm of the German U-17 side, inspiring his young charges to the final of the 2011 UEFA European U-17 Championship and to third place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. For the last two seasons, the former international has worked alongside Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.
20. Melissa Barbieri (35) was Australia’s last line of defence during three FIFA Women’s World Cup™ tournaments, USA 2003, China 2007 and Germany 2011. The reliable goalkeeper also participated in the 2004 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament and two AFC Women’s Asian Cups, reaching the final in 2006 and claiming the continental title in 2010. Barbieri has spent the entirety of her club career in her homeland, turning out for Richmond, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Box Hill United and Adelaide United.
21. Hussein Sulaimani (38) took part in three World Cups with Saudi Arabia, namely France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, as well as in two Confederations Cups, finishing fourth in the 1999 edition of the competition. The tireless left-back also competed at the 1996 Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta. After turning professional at Al-Ahli, where he bagged three Crown Prince Cups, three Saudi Federation Cups, an Arab Champions League crown and a Gulf Club Champions Cup, he moved to Swiss outfit Neuchatel Xamax, but returned to Saudi Arabia to pull on the jersey of Al-Nassr. Sulaimani, who added a national championship and a further Crown Prince Cup to his footballing CV last season, has since become a firm favourite of the Riyadh-based club’s faithful support base.
22. Frank Leboeuf (47) was a key member of the France squad that scooped the 1998 World Cup, EURO 2000 and the 2001 Confederations Cup, and was also involved in the disappointment of Korea/Japan 2002. The solid defender earned promotion to the French top flight with Strasbourg, prior to signing for Chelsea, with whom he held aloft the FA Cup, English League Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two seasons at Marseille followed, as did a spell in Qatar, where he landed the league title with Al-Sadd and the Sheikh Jassim Cup with Al-Wakrah.
23. Arjen Robben (31) has enjoyed a year to remember, winning a German League and Cup double with Bayern Munich and scoring three goals at Brazil 2014 as the Netherlands went on to finish third. His strong showings were recently recognised during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, when he was selected in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI. The speedy winger is no stranger to the global stage, having previously reached the final of South Africa 2010 and competed in the last three UEFA European Championships. Robben made his name at PSV Eindhoven, where he captured a Dutch Championship and Dutch Super Cup, piquing the interest of Chelsea in the process. During his time at Stamford Bridge, the flying Dutchman acquired two English League titles, an FA Cup, two English League Cups and an FA Community Shield. Following a two-season stint at Real Madrid, during which he attained a Liga title and a Spanish Super Cup, he then enjoyed huge success at Bayern Munich, picking up three Bundesliga crowns, three German Cups, two German Super Cups, a UEFA Champions League title, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup.
24. Ki Sungyueng (26) appeared for Korea Republic at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014. The dynamic midfield man is currently competing at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, having finished third at the 2011 contest. He also represented his country at the 2007 U-20 World Cup and at two Olympic Football Tournaments, one of which – London 2012 – resulted in a bronze medal. The Gwangju-born international started off at FC Seoul, where he hoisted the Korean League Cup. In 2009, he chose to export his skills to Europe, claiming a Scottish Cup and Scottish Premier League title with Celtic. A high-profile transfer to Swansea City saw him brandish the English League Cup in 2013. The skilful Asian was then sent out on loan to Sunderland, where he attained another League Cup final last season, before returning to the Swans for the start of the 2014/15 campaign.