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Helton celebrates birthday in style

FC Porto goalkeeper Helton said it was "a wonderful gift" after marking turning 33 with a UEFA Europa League final win. recalls how other players fared on their big day.

Birthday finalists ©Getty Images

Helton had more than one reason to celebrate FC Porto's UEFA Europa League final win against SC Braga: it came on his 33rd birthday.

The Brazilian goalkeeper – and indeed his defensive team-mate Sereno, who did not play in Europe this season – was born on 18 May, and completed an unlikely double with a victory at the Dublin Arena. "The cup is very heavy," he said. "It is a wonderful gift. We are very happy for all that we have achieved. I want to dedicate this title to my mother. She underwent surgery this week and for sure she is very happy."

Helton was not the first player to feature in a major European club final on his birthday. He was the tenth player to do so, and the sixth to celebrate his special day with a memorable victory.

Back in 1968 Manchester United FC's Brian Kidd turned 19 in style, scoring in extra time as his side beat SL Benfica 4-1 at Wembley to become the first English team to win the European Champion Clubs' Cup. Francis Lee of Manchester City FC pulled off a similar coup in the 1970 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, scoring his side's second goal from the spot as they beat Górnik Zabrze 2-1 on his 26th birthday.

However, any birthday boys expecting a goal and a win in their finals after that were to be disappointed. Club Atlético de Madrid's José Ufarte (33) became the first birthday loser in UEFA club final history when his side lost 4-0 to FC Bayern München in a replay of the 1974 European Cup final in Brussels. Gaetano Scirea of Juventus marked turning 30 by becoming a runner-up in the 1983 decider against Hamburger SV.

In 1990, forward Daniele Massaro – just turned 29 − came on for the final 15 minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win against Benfica to become only the second person to date to win Europe's top club competition on his birthday. Five years later, 30-year-old Massimo Crippa secured a notable first, featuring in the second leg of Parma FC's 2-1 aggregate triumph over Juventus to become the UEFA Cup's first birthday winner.

Anthony Bancarel of FC Girondins de Bordeaux endured a less enjoyable 25th birthday the following year, featuring in a 3-1 home defeat by Bayern which concluded a 5-1 aggregate UEFA Cup final reverse. However, Galatasaray AŞ's Ergün Penbe had a much better time in 2000. Just 28, he scored the first spot kick in his side's 4-1 shoot-out success against Arsenal FC following a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.

"I am a cold-blooded person by nature," recalled the left-back. "Before the start of the final, I was never excited in the dressing room. The final coincided with my birthday. Coach Fatih Terim asked me if I would like to take the first penalty when the game went into the shoot-out. At that moment, I wanted to give myself a birthday present and I converted the penalty. Nobody could imagine what we had achieved. We only understood after returning to Turkey."

Prior to Helton's achievement, only one player had celebrated a birthday in a UEFA club competition final since then; Rangers FC's Lee McCulloch marked his 30th with a ten-minute cameo at the end of his team's 2-0 UEFA Cup final defeat against FC Zenit St Petersburg. Helton – and indeed Sereno – had significantly more to enjoy this evening.

Players who have featured in major UEFA club competition finals on their birthdays.
*Brian Kidd (Manchester United FC, 1968 European Champion Clubs' Cup) - 19
*Francis Lee (Manchester City FC, 1970 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) - 26
José Ufarte (Club Atlético de Madrid, 1974 European Champion Clubs' Cup replay) - 33
Gaetano Scirea (Juventus, 1983 European Champion Clubs' Cup) - 30
* Daniele Massaro (AC Milan, 1990 European Champion Clubs' Cup) - 29
*Massimo Crippa (Parma FC, 1995 UEFA Cup, second leg) - 30
Anthony Bancarel (FC Girondins de Bordeaux, 1996 UEFA Cup second leg) - 25
*Ergün Penbe (Galatasaray AŞ, 2000 UEFA Cup) - 28
Lee McCulloch (Rangers FC, 2008 UEFA Cup) - 30

*a winner on his birthday

Major UEFA club competition is defined as European Champion Clubs' Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League