Sunday 25 September 2016, 07:39

Happy Birthday to you!

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.

25. Martin Vazquez(51) made four appearances for Spain at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™, having contributed fully to the corresponding qualifying campaign. The midfield man also took part in UEFA EURO 1988, as well as in three consecutive UEFA European U-21 Championships, lifting the trophy in 1986. He spent the majority of his career with Real Madrid, winning six Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups and two UEFA Cups during two separate spells with the club. Vazquez, named Spanish Footballer of the Year in 1990, also pulled on the jerseys of Torino, Marseille, Deportivo La Coruna, Atletico Celaya and Karlsruhe.

26. Clodoaldo(67) was part of the golden generation of Brazilian footballers who emerged victorious from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, where he played in all of the South Americans’ matches and scored a crucial equalising goal against Uruguay in the semi-finals. The defensive midfielder started out at Santos, where he claimed a Brazilian League title and five Sao Paolo State Championships. After a short stint at Tampa Bay Rowdies, Clodoaldo returned to Brazil to see out the remainder of his career with Manaus-based Nacional.

27. Granit Xhaka(24) reached the Round of 16 with Switzerland at Brazil 2014, playing in all four encounters and scoring one goal, prior to appearing at EURO 2016 two years later. As a younger man, he triumphed at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup and attained the final of the 2011 European U-21 Championship. The versatile midfielder came through the ranks at Basel, where he captured two Swiss League titles and a Swiss Cup. Xhaka then spent four seasons at Borussia Monchengladbach, prior to signing on the dotted line for Arsenal at the beginning of this current campaign.

28. Andres Guardado(30) competed for Mexico at three consecutive World Cups, in 2006, 2010 and 2014, where he found the net against Croatia. The left-sided midfielder also starred at two Copa America tournaments, finishing third in 2007, and at three CONCACAF Gold Cups, hoisting the trophy twice and losing in the final once. After participating in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, he and his team-mates successfully negotiated the 2015 CONCACAF Cup to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Guardado came to the fore at Atlas Guadalajara, where his performances piqued the interest of Deportivo La Corona, who secured his signature in 2007. After landing a second division championship with the Galician side, he joined Valencia, who loaned him out to Bayer Leverkusen and then to PSV Eindhoven. The combative Mexican subsequently committed himself to the Dutch giants on a permanent basis, and has since secured two Eredivisie titles and two Johan Cruyff Shields.

29. Shane Smeltz (35) helped New Zealand to return to the World Cup stage in 2010, after a long absence. While in South Africa, the imposing striker scored a goal against Italy, as the All Whites earned three draws but exited the competition with an unbeaten record. In addition, he appeared at the 2003 and 2009 Confederations Cups and the 2012 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. At club level, Smeltz has turned out for numerous clubs in New Zealand, Australia, England and Turkey, and currently plays his football in Malaysia.

30. Lauren Holiday(29) held aloft the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ with United States, performing in every match and scoring in the Final against Japan. The Indianapolis-born midfielder had previously notched two goals at Germany 2011, and picked up a gold medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments of 2008 and 2012. She has also been part of five Algarve Cup-winning sides, and she showcased her burgeoning skills at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Russia 2006. Holiday, winner of the 2013 NWSL Golden Boot, began her career at Pali Blues, before defending the colours of Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City.

1. Gaston Taument(46) was part of the Netherlands squad at USA 1994, where he made three appearances in the group stage, during which he netted a late winner against Saudi Arabia. Two years later, the pacey winger took part in EURO 1996, having previously competed at the 1992 European U-21 Championship. Taument made his name with Feyenoord, with whom he claimed a Dutch League crown and four Dutch Cups, and later represented Benfica, Anderlecht, OFI Crete and Rapid Vienna.