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.
19. Joe Hart (28) was one of England’s back-up goalkeepers at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, after which he established himself as the undisputed No1, starring at UEFA EURO 2012 and Brazil 2014. He had previously reached the final of the UEFA European U-21 Championship in 2009. The agile shot-stopper turned professional at Shrewsbury Town, where his performances attracted the attention of Manchester City, who secured his services in 2006. After gaining vital match experience during loan periods with Tranmere Rovers, Blackpool and Birmingham City, Hart staked his place in the Citizens’ starting XI, and went on to win two English Premier League titles, an FA Cup, an English League Cup, an FA Community Shield and three Premier League Golden Gloves awards.
20. Raad Hammoudi (57) was a key member of the Iraqi side that qualified for the World Cup for the first and only time to date, at Mexico 1986. At the tournament proper, the reliable custodian wore the captain’s armband and played in two of his team’s three matches, having previously appeared at the 1984 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. At club level, Hammoudi, one of the first keepers to take penalty kicks, defended the colours of Baghdad-based Al-Shorta. He is currently the president of the Iraqi Olympic Committee.
21. Toninho Cerezo (60) took part in Argentina 1978 and Spain 1982 with Brazil, making a total of ten appearances on football’s greatest stage. The determined defensive midfielder started out at Atletico Mineiro, where he was initially sent out on loan to Nacional, with whom he bagged a Campeonato Amazonense, prior to returning and claiming seven Minas Gerais State Championships with O Galo. After exporting his skills to Roma, where he lifted two Italian Cups, the tireless Brazilian moved to Sampdoria, where he clinched the Serie A title, two Italian Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. He finished on the losing side of a European Cup final with both Italian sides, in 1984 with Roma and 1992 with Sampdoria. Upon returning to South America, Cerezo turned out for several Brazilian outfits, including Sao Paolo, with whom he scooped a Campeonato Paulista, two Intercontinental Cups, a Copa Libertadores, a Supercopa Sudamericana and two Recopas Sudamericanas. A subsequent move into coaching saw him successfully take charge of, among others, Vitoria, Kashima Antlers, Sport Recife, Atletico Mineiro, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia) and Al-Shabab (UAE).
22. John Obi Mikel (28) participated in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup with Nigeria, where he reached the final against Argentina and finished second in the voting for the adidas Golden Ball, behind Lionel Messi. The combative midfielder also took part in four consecutive CAF Africa Cup of Nations contests with the Super Eagles, twice finishing third and hoisting the continental trophy in 2013. In addition, he competed at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, but could not prevent his nation from suffering a Round-of-16 exit at the hands of France in Brazil. Mikel began his career with Oslo-based Lyn, piquing the interest of Chelsea with his strong displays. Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2006, the former two-time African Young Player of the Year has added to his CV a UEFA Champions League title, a UEFA Europa League title, an English Premier League crown, four FA Cups, two English League Cups and an FA Community Shield.
23. Kyle Beckerman (33) performed with distinction for United States at Brazil 2014, where he played in three group-phase matches. The tough-tackling midfield man had previously appeared at the 1999 U-17 World Cup, where the Stars and Stripes finished fourth, and at the 2007 Copa America. In 2013, he enjoyed his first taste of international success, brandishing the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Beckerman rose to prominence with Colorado Rapids, but it is with his present club, Real Salt Lake, that he got his hands on major silverware, the highlight of which was the MLS Cup in 2009.
24. Jan Vertonghen (28) was part of the highly capable Belgian side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, in what was Les Diables Rouges’ first appearance at the prestigious tournament since 2002. Despite fulfilling defensive duties for his nation in Brazil, he still managed to contribute a goal versus Korea Republic during the group stage. The versatile left-back also represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. A product of Ajax’s famed youth academy, he later enjoyed great success as part of the Amsterdam club’s senior team, securing two Eredivisie titles and a Dutch Cup. Vertonghen signed for Tottenham Hotspur in July 2012.
25. Raphael Varane (22) has experienced a rapid rise to prominence with Real Madrid and with the French national team, prevailing in the Copa del Rey, La Liga, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with the former and making five appearances at Brazil 2014 with the latter, including Les Bleus’ quarter-final defeat by eventual champions Germany. Prior to arriving in Madrid, the classy centre-half spent an initial season with French outfit Lens.