Happy birthday to you!
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.
Mario Gotze (20) is currently gearing up to appear for Germany at UEFA EURO 2012, where he will be looking to win his first international title with the senior team. Coach Joachim Low hopes the youngster can inject spark into his midfield, and, if Gotze lives up to his potential, he could end the tournament being bracketed together with the finest talents in world football. The livewire attacking midfielder began grabbing headlines when he helped Borussia Dortmund claim their first Bundesliga title in nine years in 2011, and although he missed the second half of the 2011/12 season through injury, he still contributed to the club's memorable league and cup double.
Romaric (29) took part in Côte d'Ivoire's second 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals campaign, appearing in all three of their matches in South Africa and getting his name on the scoresheet in their last outing against Korea DPR. The gifted midfielder has also participated in two editions of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, in 2006 and 2008, having started his professional career with ASEC Mimosas. From there, he left for Beveren in Belgium, later moving to France to join Le Mans, but it was his transfer to Sevilla that really elevated him to another level. Romaric celebrated success with the Andalusian outfit in the Copa del Rey in 2010, but lost the Spanish Super Cup the following season and joined Espanyol at the start of the 2011/12 campaign, notching three La Liga goals.
Achille Emana (30) has served Cameroon well in the most demanding environments, competing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, when the Indomitable Lions finished runners-up to France. The tireless midfielder also graced three consecutive editions of the Africa Cup of Nations between 2006 and 2010, making his international breakthrough while still at his first club, Toulouse. After being linked with moves to a number of leading French and English sides, he eventually made the switch to Real Betis in Spain, and last year he opted for a new adventure with Saudi Arabian outfit Al Hilal. Emana was then loaned out to Dubai side Al Ahli in January, going on to lift the UAE League Cup.
Rosie White (19) may still be young but she has already attracted plenty of attention thanks to her superb performances for New Zealand. Representing her country at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in 2008, she became the first player to score a hat-trick in both competitions in the same year, and in 2011 she turned out for the senior team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Germany. The brightest talent in Oceania is now preparing to lead the Football Ferns' attack at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Japan 2012 later this year.
Cafu (42) was one of the greatest footballers ever to roll off the Brazilian production line, displaying genuine attacking qualities for a right-back and winning the FIFA World Cup in both 1994 and 2002 – the latter as captain. He also disputed France 1998 and Germany 2006, while experiencing triumph at the Copa America in 1997 and 1999, and the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup. His club career began at Sao Paulo, where he collected a pair of Copa Libertadores titles and an Intercontinental Cup, not to mention the Supercopa Sudamericana in 1993 and the Recopa Sudamericana in 1993 and 1994. In the domestic sphere, he celebrated a championship victory in 1991 and clinched two Campeonato Paulista crowns, in 1991 and 1992, before signing for Real Zaragoza. Cafu lifted the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with the Spanish side in 1995 but soon returned to Brazil, where he helped Palmeiras to glory in the 1996 Campeonato Paulista. Roma were then able to lure the defender back to Europe and he spent six seasons in the Italian capital, tasting Scudetto success in 2001 and clinching the 2001 Italian Super Cup. He made AC Milan his next port of call and continued expanding his list of honours, winning the Serie A title and Italian Super Cup in 2004, the UEFA Champions League in 2007, the UEFA Super Cup in 2003 and 2007, and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. On an individual level, he was named South American footballer of the year in 2004.
Javier Mascherano (28) has increased his medal collection considerably since his last birthday, helping Barcelona triumph in the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, 2011 FIFA Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey. He also enjoyed something of a breakthrough campaign by proving to his critics that he fully deserves his place in Barça's starting line-up, having enjoyed more playing time than when the Catalan giants collected the La Liga crown and Champions League the previous season. Mascherano first made a name for himself as a defensive midfielder while at River Plate, where he won the Clausura competition in 2004, and the following year he added the Brazilian title with Corinthians. His first tilt at the European game came in an unsuccessful spell at West Ham United, after which he turned out for Liverpool until Barcelona came calling. With Argentina, he took part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has contested a trio of Copa America final tournaments – in 2004, 2007 and 2011 – as well as taking Olympic gold at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
Wesley Sneijder (28) has become a pillar of the Netherlands team, thrilling with his talent at the 2010 FIFA World Cup as he found the net on five occasions. He also represented the Oranje at Germany 2006 and EURO 2008, and is now hoping he can steer his country to success at EURO 2012. A product of the celebrated Ajax youth academy, the attacking midfielder won the Eredivisie title with the Amsterdam side in 2004, in addition to the Dutch Cup in 2006 and 2007, and three Dutch Super Cups in 2002, 2005 and 2006. His performances for the club soon alerted some of Europe's most prestigious names to his ability and he eventually opted to join Real Madrid, where he secured the Spanish title in 2008. Sneijder made his way to Inter Milan following his second campaign with Los Merengues and it was a choice he has not regretted since, the club snapping up the Serie A crown, Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup in 2010.
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