Sunday 30 October 2016, 08:39

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.

30. Diego Maradona(56) is quite simply one of the greatest players in the history of football. At international level, the highly skilful playmaker lifted the 1979 FIFA U-20 World Cup with Argentina, earning the adidas Golden Ball for his sensational performances, prior to taking part in the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain™ and then in Mexico 1986, where he inspired La Albiceleste to their second global crown and again won the adidas Golden Ball. At Italy 1990, the gifted Argentinian was part of the team that lost to West Germany in the Final, and four years later he enjoyed an international swansong in the United States, having scored a total of eight goals in 21 World Cup matches. Maradona began his career at Argentinos Juniors, where he topped the Argentinian scoring charts several times, and Boca Juniors, where he claimed a Primera Division title. A move to European football saw the two-time South American Footballer of the Year first star for Barcelona, with whom he landed a Spanish Cup, a Spanish Super Cup and a Spanish League Cup, and then acquire legendary status at Napoli, where he racked up two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, a Supercoppa Italiana, a UEFA Cup and an Italian Footballer of the Year award, and finished as top goalscorer in Serie A. After a subsequent one-year spell at Sevilla, Maradona returned to Argentina, where he played a handful of matches for Newell’s Old Boys, before seeing out the remainder of his memorable career at Boca Juniors. The Buenos Aires native later moved into coaching, taking charge of Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, and of Emirati club Al Wasl.

31. Inka Grings(38) is one of Germany’s greatest ever goalscorers, and she represented her country at two FIFA Women’s World Cups, in 1999 and 2011, finding the net five times in a total of eight matches. In addition, the prolific striker earned a bronze medal at the 2000 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament and triumphed at the 2005 and 2009 UEFA European Women's Championships, scoring 10 times in 11 continental encounters and finishing as the tournament’s top goalscorer on both occasions. At club level, she started out at FCR 2001 Duisburg, where she secured a Frauen-Bundesliga title, three German Cups and a UEFA Women’s Champions League crown, and was the leading scorer in Germany six times and in the Champions League twice. In 2011, Grings joined FC Zurich, with whom she clinched two Swiss League Championships and two Swiss Cups. Following a short stint with Chicago Red Stars, she signed for Cologne, the final stop-off of her career. After hanging up her boots, she became coach of Duisburg, a role she continues to fulfil.

1. Bernd Cullmann(67) was part of the golden generation of West German footballers that emerged victorious from the 1974 World Cup, during which he starred in three matches and scored one goal against Australia. The midfielder was again called up to the West Germany squad for Argentina 1978, but he remained on the bench throughout the competition. He was, however, part of the team that became European champions in 1980. A loyal servant of Cologne for the duration of his club career, Cullmann brandished four German Cups with Die Geißböcke.

2. Ali Hassan Zadeh(29) recently propelled Iran to a third-place finish at the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, during which he notched five goals in seven matches. The talented pivot had previously appeared at the 2008 and 2012 editions of the tournament. He has also bagged three AFC Futsal Championships and two WAFF Futsal Championships. Domestically, his greatest successes have come with Foolad Mahan and Tasisat Daryaei, as he has won both an AFC Futsal Club Championship and Iranian Super League title with each one. In 2014, Zadeh was named AFC Futsal Player of the Year.

3. Guillermo Franco(40) competed for Mexico at two consecutive World Cups, at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. He also held aloft the CONCACAF Gold Cup with El Tri in 2009. The Argentina-born forward turned professional at San Lorenzo, where he gained an Argentinian league-winners’ medal. He later played for Monterrey, where he netted a Mexican League title and topped the national scoring charts, before trying his luck in Europe, with Villarreal and West Ham. Upon returning to Argentina, he captured another league crown, this time with Velez Sarsfield. Franco later had two brief spells with Pachuca (Mexico) and Chicago Fire (USA).

4. Luis Figo(44) is a living legend of Portuguese football, having taken part in Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, where he and his team-mates finished fourth. The graceful winger also played at three successive UEFA European Championships, losing the 2004 final to Greece. He had previously enjoyed success at youth level, winning the 1989 UEFA European U-17 Championship and the 1991 U-20 World Cup, and finishing third at the 1989 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The six-time Portuguese Footballer of the Year started off at Sporting Lisbon, where he lifted the Portuguese Cup, prior to putting pen to paper with Barcelona, with whom he amassed two Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, a Spanish Super Cup, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. A high-profile transfer to Real Madrid saw him add two Liga crowns, two Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Champions League title, a UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup, a FIFA World Player of the Year award and a Ballon d’Or to his CV. In 2005, Figo committed himself to Inter Milan, where he picked up four Serie A titles, an Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups.

5. Dado Prso(42)made three appearances for Croatia at Germany 2006, but could not prevent his nation from suffering an early exit. The bustling frontman also played three times at EURO 2004, scoring one goal against France. After earning his spurs with Pazinka and Rouen, he moved to Monaco, who sent him out on loan to Ajaccio, with whom he won the French third division. Once the three-time Croatian Player of the Year had established a place in the Monaco starting XI, silverware followed in the shape of a Ligue 1 title, a French League Cup and a Trophee des champions, although he also lost the Champions League final to Porto. Prso later joined Rangers, where he secured a Scottish League title and a Scottish League Cup.