World Football

Happy Birthday to you!

Abby Wambach of USA celebrates after FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Final
© 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.

29. Benjamin(47) represented Brazil at no fewer than six FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups, lifting the trophy four times, earning a runners-up medal once and finishing in third place once. The prolific forward, who has scored 35 goals in 34 World Cup matches, has also collected a number of individual awards at the tournament, including two adidas Silver Balls, an adidas Bronze Ball and an adidas Silver Shoe. Benjamin has emerged victorious from the CONMEBOL Beach Soccer Championship four times.

30. Dragan Dzajic(70) made five appearances for Yugoslavia at the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ in West Germany, scoring one goal. In addition, the dynamic left winger starred at the 1964 Olympic Football Tournament and at two UEFA European Championships, losing to Italy in the 1968 final, at the culmination of a competition in which he topped the scoring charts. The skilful Serbian spent the majority of his club career with Red Star Belgrade, where he claimed five Yugoslav First League titles and four Yugoslav Cups. Dzajic also enjoyed a two-year stint at French outfit Bastia.

31. Eloy Campos(74) played in two matches for Peru at Mexico 1970, the South Americans’ first appearance on the World Cup stage since the inaugural tournament in 1930. The defender also turned out for his country at the 1960 Olympic Games. He won four Peruvian Championships with Sporting Cristal, prior to bringing the curtain down on his career at Cienciano. Campos later moved into coaching, taking the reins of a number of Peruvian clubs.

1. Jean Beausejour(32) played four times at the 2015 Copa America, helping Chile capture the continental trophy for the first time. The left-sided South American had previously appeared at the 2011 Copa America and at two World Cups (South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014), scoring two goals in six matches, including the winner against Honduras in 2010. At club level, he rose to prominence in his homeland at Universidad Catolica, where he clinched a Chilean League title, and later picked up further silverware with Gremio (Brazilian second division title), Birmingham City (English League Cup), Wigan Athletic (FA Cup) and Colo-Colo (Chilean League title), his current club. Beausejour has also pulled on the jerseys of Servette, Gent and Club America, among others.

2. Abby Wambach(36) will celebrate her birthday away from the football pitch this year, following her recent retirement from the beautiful game. The robust forward, regarded as one of United States’ greatest ever players, participated in four FIFA Women’s World Cup™ tournaments in a row, scoring a total of 14 goals and hoisting the prestigious trophy in 2015, having previously finished second once and third on two occasions. At the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, she added two gold medals to her CV and notched nine goals in 11 games. The 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year, who found the net more often than any other female footballer in history, donned the colours of Washington Freedom, magicJack and Western New York Flash during her club career.

3. Luigi Di Biagio(45) took part in two successive World Cups with Italy: France 1998, where he got on the scoresheet and lost out on penalties to the host nation in the quarter-finals, and Korea/Japan 2002, where he made just one appearance. The tenacious defensive midfielder was also part of the Nazionale team that was defeated by Les Bleus in the final of UEFA EURO 2000. Di Biagio played for Lazio, Monza, Foggia, Roma, Inter Milan, Brescia and Ascoli, before hanging up his boots and taking the reins of the Italian U-21 side.

4. Elane(48) competed for Brazil at three Women’s World Cups, scoring one goal in 12 matches, and finishing third in 1999. In 1996, the centre-back appeared at the first-ever Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta.

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