Football's happiest – and unhappiest – birthdays

With Valencia boss Gary Neville turning 41 on the day of his first ever UEFA Europa League game, UEFA.com remembers some brilliant – and awful – footballing birthdays.

Brian Kidd after scoring for Manchester United in the 1968 European Cup final, on his 19th birthday
Brian Kidd after scoring for Manchester United in the 1968 European Cup final, on his 19th birthday ©Getty Images

Valencia boss Gary Neville turns 41 the day of his first UEFA Europa League game as player or coach, with Rapid Wien boss Zoran Barisic planning to spoil the occasion. "We definitely won't be giving him any presents," he told UEFA.com. "We will do all we can not to give away anything."

Will his birthday become one of UEFA's best ever, or join our list of ones to forget?

Birthday bonanzas
Manchester United's Brian Kidd scored in the 4-1 win against Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final on his 19th birthday, while the Red Devils' 1999 final success was made all the sweeter by the fact the 2-1 victory over Bayern took place on what would have been Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.

• Born on 31 December, Sir Alex Ferguson discovered he had been knighted when the traditional New Year's Honours list was revealed on his 68th birthday in 1999.

Francis Lee scoring for City on his 24th birthday
Francis Lee scoring for City on his 24th birthday©Getty Images

Manchester City lifted their only European trophy – the 1970 European Cup Winners' Cup – on the day Francis Lee turned 24; he struck his side's second, not atypically from the penalty spot, and it proved decisive in a 2-1 triumph for Joe Mercer's team.

• On 5 November 2003, Monaco forward Dado Pršo marked his 29th birthday by scoring four in an 8-3 UEFA Champions League group stage demolition of Deportivo La Coruña. "Scoring four goals was incredible, but it was really about sharing my birthday with every single fan here," he told UEFA.com.

Ergün Penbe on his 27th birthday
Ergün Penbe on his 27th birthday©Getty Images

Ergün Penbe did not doubt his luck on his 27th birthday, stepping up to slot Galatasaray's first penalty in the 4-1 shoot-out success that settled the 2000 UEFA Cup final, after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal. "Coach Fatih Terim asked if I would like to take the first penalty, and I wanted to give myself a birthday present and converted it," he said.

Celtic celebrated the 125th anniversary of their foundation with a notable 2-1 UEFA Champions League home victory against Barcelona on 8 November 2012. "It is right up there as one of the proudest nights of my career," manager Neil Lennon said. "It was a monumental effort on the anniversary of the club."

Steaua Bucureşti's Victor Piţurcă was one day shy of his 30th birthday when his side kicked off the 1986 European Cup final against Barcelona, which they won – after extra time and penalties – in Seville. Given the time difference, he turned 30 – in Romania at least – in the minutes before the game finished. "Honestly I did not have a clue that I could have celebrated my birthday on the pitch," he told UEFA.com. "How could I possibly have thought of my birthday at a time like that?"

• Several more birthday boys and girls scored in UEFA finals; Rui Barros (22) in the first leg of Porto's 1987 UEFA Super Cup success against Ajax; John Bosman (twice, aged 24) in Mechelen's 3-0 triumph over PSV in the first leg of the 1988 competition (held in 1989, and won 3-1 on aggregate); and Veronica Faisst (25) who came off the bench to net in Wolfsburg's 4-3 UEFA Women's Champions League final victory against Tyresö FF.

Jon Dahl Tomasson was an unused AC Milan substitute on his 27th birthday as the Rossoneri beat Porto 1-0 to claim the 2003 UEFA Super Cup.

• In 2015, Vardar coach Sergei Andreev landed the first title of his career with a 4-1 thrashing of Renova on 16 May – his 59th birthday. "This is the best birthday of my life," he said. He left the new Macedonian champions two months later.

Players who have won major European finals on their birthdays:

UEFA Champions League/European Champion Clubs' Cup
Brian Kidd (Manchester United 4-1 Benfica, aet) – aged 19, 29/05/68
Daniele Massaro (Milan 1-0 Benfica) – aged 29, 23/05/90

European Cup Winners' Cup
Francis Lee (Manchester City 2-1 Górnik Zabrze) – aged 24, 29/04/70

Porto's Helton on the day he turned 33
Porto's Helton on the day he turned 33©Getty Images

UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup
Massimo Crippa (Juventus 1-1 Parma, second leg – agg 1-2) – aged 30, 17/05/95
Ergün Penbe (Galatasaray 0-0 Arsenal, aet, Galatasaray win 4-1 on pens) – aged 28, 17/05/00
Helton (Porto 1-0 Braga) – aged 33, 18/05/11

UEFA Super Cup
Wim Suurbier (Ajax 6-0 Milan, second leg – agg 6-1) – aged 19, 16/01/74
Rui Barros (Ajax 0-1 Porto, first leg – agg 0-2) – aged 22, 24/11/87
John Bosman (Mechelen 3-0 PSV, first leg – agg 3-1) – aged 24, 01/02/89
Bojan Krkić (Barcelona 1-0 Shakhtar) – aged 19, 28/08/09

UEFA Women's EURO
Heidi Støre (Italy 0-1 Norway) – aged 30, 04/07/93

UEFA Women's Champions League/UEFA Women's Cup
Katrin Kliehm (Umeå 1-1 Frankfurt, first leg – agg 3-4) – aged 27, 17/05/08
Verena Faisst (Tyresö 3-4 Wolfsburg) – aged 25, 22/05/14

Thomas Kaminski and the man who spoiled his 21st
Thomas Kaminski and the man who spoiled his 21st©Getty Images

Unhappy returns
• Goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski turned 21 on 23 October 2013, the day his Anderlecht team met Paris in the UEFA Champions League. "I hope Zlatan Ibrahimović doesn't spoil my day with a goal that gets attention around the world," he said. The Swede did just that with his third effort – a sensational drive – in a 5-0 Paris win in Brussels.

• Former Romania defender Mircea Rednic has learned not to look forward to his birthday too much; now 53, he has been fired twice on his big day, with his 39th birthday celebrations at Rapid Bucureşti in 2001, and his 52nd at Gent in 2014, both coinciding with his clubs wielding the axe.

Liechtenstein forward Mario Frick's 36th birthday fell horribly flat on 7 September 2010. He notched a stylish UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying opener against Scotland at Hampden Park, which looked like earning a 1-1 draw until Stephen McManus hit a 97th-minute winner for the hosts.

Players who have lost major European finals on their birthdays:

UEFA Champions League/European Champion Clubs' Cup
José Ufarte (Atlético 0-4 Bayern) – aged 33, 17/05/74
Gaetano Scirea (Hamburg 1-0 Juventus) – aged 30, 25/05/83

European Cup Winners' Cup
José Luis (Real Madrid 1-2 Chelsea, replay after first final finished 1-1) – aged 28, 21/05/71

Rangers' Lee McCulloch on his 30th birthday
Rangers' Lee McCulloch on his 30th birthday©Getty Images

UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup
Anthony Bancarel (Bordeaux 1-3 Bayern, second leg – agg 5-1) – aged 25, 15/05/96
Lee McCulloch (Zenit 2-0 Rangers) – aged 30, 14/05/08

UEFA Women's EURO
Dagny Mellgren (Germany 3-1 Norway) – aged 27, 19/06/05

UEFA Women's Champions League/UEFA Women's Cup
Daria Apanashchenko (Zvezda 0-6 Duisburg, first leg – agg 1-7) – aged 23, 16/05/09

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