On 18 May 1981, former Lyon, Real Madrid, and Monaco star Mahamadou Diarra was born in Bamako, Mali.
A defensive midfielder, Diarra started his professional career in 1998 with OFI Crete. After one season there, then three in the Netherlands with Vitesse, he moved to Lyon where he rose to international prominence. With Diarra anchoring the midfield, Lyon won the league in each of his four seasons (the second through fifth of their seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles).
Diarra's success at Lyon prompted a €26 million move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2006. In his first season there, he helped Madrid win their first league title in four years, then continued his run of silverware with another championship in his second season--a personal streak of six straight league titles. Internationally, he represented Mali from 2001 to 2014, making 64 appearances and serving as team captain.
A series of knee injuries and the 2009 arrival of Xavi Alonso pushed Diarra out of his starting role in Madrid and, in January 2011, he moved to Monaco. A move to Fulham followed a year later, where Diarra remained until his retirement in 2014.