From the moment Guy Lafleur received his first hockey stick at the age of five there was no going back.
His ice hockey prowess, evident during his teen years with the Quebec Remparts, grew to greater strengths when signing for the Montreal Canadiens in 1974.
Adored by fans for iconic skating and scoring touch, “The Flower” helped his side lift the prestigious Stanley Cup five times during his 17 year career.
Lafleur is the Canadiens all-time leading scorer, amassing an impressive tally of 1,246 points (518 goals and 728 assists), leading the NHL in points from 1976 to 1978. He also became the first NHL player in history to register at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Other accolades include three Art Ross, two Hart Memorial, three Lester B. Pearson and a single Conn Smythe trophy.
Le Demon Blond was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, but like Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux, Lafleur is one of three players to have returned to NFL action following an induction.
More sports celebrity birthdays on this day:
1971: Henrik Larsson, prolific former Celtic, Barcelona, Manchester United and Sweden centre-forward (45).
1975: Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombian former Formula One driver for Williams and McLaren (41).
1981: Feliciano Lopez, Spanish tennis player and three-time Wimbledon singles quarter-finalist (35).
1990: John Tavares, Canadian ice hockey centre who is captain of NHL’s New York Islanders (26).
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When it comes to greatest goalkeepers to have ever played in English football, David Seaman certainly falls into that bracket.
Celebrating his 53rd birthday today, Seaman was one of the finest stoppers ever.
The retired star played for numerous clubs including QPR and Manchester City but enjoyed his most successful stint in north London with Arsenal.
During his 13- year spell with the Gunners, he helped them win three league championships (1991, 1998, 2002), four FA Cups (1993, 1998, 2002, 2003), the League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup.
He was No1 for England, playing in Euro 96 and 2000, as well as the 1998 and 2002 World Cup. He remains the second-most capped goalkeeper with 75 caps after Peter Shilton, and retired in 2002 after a shoulder injury.
Other sports stars birthdays today
1973: Cristiano da Matta, ex-racing driver who drove for Toyota in the Formula One (43).
1977: Akash Chopra, ex-India opening batsman who played 10 Tests (39).
1980: Dimitri Yachvili, former Biarritz and France scrumhalf (36).
1982: Eleni Daniilidou, Greek tennis player who reached the 2003 Australian Open mixed doubles final (34).
When the draw was made for the tournament, few would have predicted the first upset would come between Japan and South Africa in the Pool B opener.
The Springboks, two-time champions, won all their openers since 1995 but that record was ended on this day 12 months ago as Japan produced the biggest World Cup shock in history.
The Asian outfit, going into the game without a win in 18 WC matches, gave Heyneke Meyer’s troops a tough time.
With the scores level 29-29, South Africa went ahead for a 32-29 lead in the closing stages but Japan’s Karne Hesketh scored the try in the corner for an unforgettable victory – their first in the showpiece event since 1991.
Other memorable events on this day:
1999: Alan Shearer scores five goals in Newcastle’s 8-0 Premier League rout of Sheffield Wednesday.
2004: Steve Harmison becomes the first England player to pull out of the controversial winter tour to Zimbabwe.
2006: Randy Lerner completes his takeover of Aston Villa, succeeding Doug Ellis as chairman.
2015: Gloucestershire hold their nerve to pull off an unlikely six-run victory over Surrey in the Royal London Cup final at Lord’s.