Karim Ziani (No. 15) is a two-time Algerian player of the year. ((Clive Mason/Getty Images))


Born: Aug. 17, 1982 in Sevres, France

Position: Midfielder

Nickname: The Desert Fox

Clubs played for: Born to Algerian parents, Ziani made his pro debut for French club Troyes in 2000, before moving on to Lorient and Sochaux. It was at Sochaux that he caught the attention of Olympique Marseille, which brought him to the French port city in 2007. After two seasons, German league champions Wolfsburg signed the Algerian this past summer, paying Marseille a whopping $11-million Cdn transfer free for the Algerian's services.  

International career: Ziani made his debut for the Algerian national team in 2003 in a friendly against Belgium. He went on to star for his country at the 2004 African Cup of Nations and scored his first goal for Algeria four years later against Gambia

Why is he so special? Ziani stands only five-foot-six but he is a fearless and aggressive tackler - so much so that he and Wolfsburg teammate Edin Dzeko once came to blows in practice.

His most famous moment: Setting up teammate Antar Yahia's winning goal against Egypt in the qualifiers on Nov. 18, 2009, a result that allowed Algeria to earn a berth at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

He said it: "Celebrating a victory before it occurs has become an Egyptian speciality. They already celebrated their qualification to the World Cup the day after the draw was made, thinking that they would make mincemeat of Algeria. To them I say: We'll see who [ends up] celebrating qualification."

What they're saying about him: "He's the one that usually calms the team and builds our attacks in his way." - Rabah Saadane, Algerian national team coach)

Here's an interesting fact: Ziani won the Algerian Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball award) in 2006 and 2007.