World Football

Happy Birthday to you!

FIFA Women's World Player of the Year nominee Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil poses
© Getty Images

In our regular Sunday feature, presents you with some of the biggest names in football who will be celebrating their birthdays over the coming week.

15. Gabriel Paletta(29) was part of Italy’s squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, where he played in his country’s sole victory over England. The towering centre-back had previously lifted the FIFA U-20 World Cup with his birth nation, Argentina, alongside Lionel Messi. He began his career with Banfield, where his performances earned him a move to Liverpool, although he found playing time at Anfield hard to come by. Upon returning to Argentina to represent Boca Juniors, he won the Primera Division title and the Recopa Sudamericana, and reached the final of the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup versus AC Milan. Paletta then packed his bags for Italy, turning out for Parma and then current club AC Milan.

16. Ron Vlaar(30) played a key role in the Netherlands’ run to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, where the Oranje defeated hosts Brazil to claim third place. As a younger man, the solid defender took part in the 2005 U-20 World Cup and captured two UEFA European U-21 Championship titles. Vlaar came through the ranks at AZ Alkmaar, before joining Feyenoord and holding aloft the Dutch Cup. After spending six and a half seasons with the illustrious Rotterdam side, he signed for Aston Villa in August 2012.

17. Amy Rodriguez(28) reached the Final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ with USA, but could not prevent her team from losing to Japan. The pacey striker did enjoy better fortune at the Women’s Olympic football tournament, however, earning a gold medal at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. She also competed at the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, where the young Americans finished third, and at the 2006 edition in Russia, where they lost to Brazil in the match for third place. Rodriguez rose to prominence at Boston Breakers, prior to turning out for Philadelphia Independence and Kansas City, with whom she landed the NWSL Championship in 2014.

18. Idriss Kameni(31) was Cameroon’s last line of defence at the 2000 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Sydney, where Les Lions Indomptables *emerged victorious. The talented goalkeeper was subsequently selected for the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, as well as the 2001 and 2003 FIFA Confederations Cups, attaining the final at the latter event. In addition, he participated in the 1999 U-20 World Cup and in five CAF Africa Cup of Nations events, picking up a winners’ medal in 2002, although he was not the team’s starting ’keeper at the time. Kameni turned professional with French outfit Le Havre, but it was with Barcelona-based Espanyol that he made his name, helping his team-mates to hoist the Copa del Rey and reach the UEFA Cup final. After eight campaigns with *Los Periquitos, the Douala-born custodian put pen to paper with Malaga in 2012.

19. Marta(29)is regarded as one of the greatest female players in history, excelling during a 15-year career that continues to this day and amassing a remarkable ten consecutive nominations for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, an accolade she scooped five times in a row between 2006 and 2010. The Brazilian attacker has defended her nation’s colours at three Women’s World Cups, losing in the Final in 2007, and is expected to make it four at Canada 2015. She previously appeared at the U-20 Women’s World Cups of 2002 and 2004, reaching the last four on both occasions, and at three Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments, finishing fourth in 2004 and bagging a runners-up medal in 2008. Marta started out at Vasco da Gama and Santa Cruz, but chose to export her skills to Swedish side Umea IK, where she secured four league titles, a Swedish Cup and the UEFA Women’s Cup. Spells at Los Angeles Sol and Santos followed, as did Copa Libertadores Femenina and Brazilian Cup triumphs. She then tasted success in two consecutive WPS campaigns in the USA, with FC Gold Pride, and Western New York Flash. The prolific South American forward then returned to Sweden, where she inspired Tyreso to a league title and the UEFA Women’s Cup final. In July 2014, she signed for Rosengard, and added another Swedish League crown to her CV a few months later.

20. Jimmy Greaves(75) was a key member of the England squad that brandished the 1966 World Cup, during which he made three appearances in the group stage. Four years earlier at Chile 1962, the clinical striker played in four matches and scored one goal. Greaves, who finished as the leading goalscorer in the English League on no fewer than six occasions, pulled on the jerseys of Chelsea, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur during his career, gaining a Serie A winners’ medal with the Lombardy club, and two FA Charity Shields, two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup with the London side. The Essex native also topped the scoring charts in the latter tournament, grabbing a brace in the final versus Atletico Madrid.

21. Federico Fernandez(26) contributed to Argentina’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014, and later appeared at the tournament proper, where *La Alibiceleste *came close to getting their hands on the trophy. At club level, the imposing centre-half won the Argentinian Championship and the Copa Libertadores with Estudiantes, before making his services available to Napoli, with whom he lifted two Italian Cups. He also enjoyed a successful spell on loan in Spain, with Madrid-based Getafe. In August 2014, Fernandez committed himself to Swansea City.

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