World Football

Happy Birthday to you!

(FIFA.com)
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is seen during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Getafe
© AFP

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.

21. Cheick Tiote(29) played in all of Côte d'Ivoire’s matches at the last two FIFA World Cup™ tournaments (South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014), and participated in the last four CAF African Cup of Nations contests, reaching the final in 2012 and capturing the trophy in 2015. After winning two Belgian League titles and two Belgian Super Cups with Anderlecht, the combative defensive midfielder spent a season on loan at Roda JC, prior to joining Twente, where he won the Eredivisie Championship and the Dutch Super Cup. In 2010, Tiote moved to Newcastle United, where he has spent the last five seasons.

22. Nikita Rukavytsya(28) represented Australia at South Africa 2010 and at the 2008 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. He began his career at Perth Glory, where his performances attracted the attention of Twente, who secured his signature in 2009. Following Dutch League glory with the Tukkers, the attack-minded Australian signed for Hertha Berlin, where he claimed the German second division title. Rukavytsya subsequently turned out for Mainz and Eintracht Frankfurt, but returned to his homeland in 2014 to don the colours of Western Sydney Wanderers, with whom he competed in the FIFA Club World Cup later that year.

23. Isabell Herlovsen(27) will spend her birthday far from home, as she is currently playing for Norway at her third FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Canada. She has already scored twice at this year’s tournament, and will be hoping to add to that tally in the Scandinavians’ Round-of-16 clash with England on Monday. At China 2007, the clinical striker bagged two goals, including the one that eliminated the hosts in the quarter-finals. At Germany 2011, she and her team-mates failed to advance past the group stage. Herlovsen had previously taken part in the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament and the 2005 UEFA Women’s EURO, where the Norwegians lost in the final to Germany. She started out at Kolbotn, where she landed two Norwegian League titles and a Norwegian Cup. A move to Lyon saw her clinch a French Championship and reach the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League versus Potsdam. Upon returning to Norway, she added two further league crowns and a national cup to her CV with Kvinner, while finishing top of the national scoring charts in 2012.

24. Lionel Messi(28) has experienced a year of contrasts, having concluded season 2013/14 without getting his hands on any silverware with Barcelona and subsequently propelling Argentina to the Final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, where he earned the adidas Golden Ball award. On his return to Spain, the gifted South American inspired the *Blaugrana *to glory in La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League, finishing second-top scorer in the league and becoming the all-time joint top scorer (with Cristiano Ronaldo) in the Champions League in the process. These successes followed on from the six Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, six Spanish Super Cups, three Champions League crowns, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups he had already amassed with the Catalan giants. The legendary forward is currently showcasing his skills at the 2015 Copa America in Chile, his third appearance at the continental tournament. Messi, a four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, previously competed at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 2006 World Cup, the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament, where the Argentinians emerged victorious, and the 2010 World Cup.

25. Dorinel Munteanu(47) was part of the Romania side that earned many admirers at USA 1994, where he and his team-mates reached the quarter-finals. The midfielder also appeared at France 1998, as well as at the UEFA European Championships of 1996 and 2000. He pulled on the jerseys of numerous clubs, including Dinamo Bucharest, Cologne, Wolfsburg, Steaua Bucharest and Cluj. After hanging up his boots, Munteanu moved into coaching, taking the reins ofseveral sides in Romania, Russia and Azerbaijan.

26. Joel Campbell(23) played a key role in Costa Rica’s unexpected run to the quarter-finals of Brazil 2014, during which the CONCACAF representatives defeated Uruguay and Italy before losing to the Netherlands on penalties. The bustling attacker had previously taken part in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and in 2011, he appeared at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America. Campbell came through the ranks at Deportivo Saprissa, where he picked up a Costa Rican Primera Division winners’ medal, prior to putting pen to paper with Arsenal, who promptly loaned him out to Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiacos. After returning to Arsenal in the summer of 2014, the San Jose native lifted the FA Community Shield and made his Premier League debut, but he was sent out to loan again during the January transfer window, this time to Spanish outfit Villarreal.

27. Celia Sasic(27) is presently impressing fans with her displays for Germany at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, in what is her second successive appearance on women’s football’s greatest stage. In addition, the prolific striker was part of the Germany teams that triumphed at two Women's EURO competitions (in 2009 and 2013) and at the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She also won a bronze medal at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. Sasic rose to prominence at 07 Bad Neuenahr, where she earned a German Female Footballer of the Year award, before committing herself to 1. FFC Frankfurt in 2013. Two years later, the two-time Frauen-Bundesliga top goalscorer held aloft the Women’s Champions League trophy after she and her team-mates defeated Paris Saint-Germain in the final.

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