Football Features

Leap year: Seven footballers born on February 29

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:15, 27 February 2024

February 29 falls just once every four years, of course, and when it does you don’t necessarily feel like having the extra day.

But for millions, it’s cause for celebration. Because those unique enough to be born between February 28 and March 1 are known as leap-year babies.

No longer choosing either of those aforementioned dates to ring in another day on Earth they again can truly celebrate their ‘birthday’.

Notable ‘leaplings’ include the painter Balthus, cyclist Dave Brailsford and rapper Ja Rule.

The Premier League & February 29: Four leap day stats

  • Jarrod Bowen and Troy Deeney are the only English players to score a Premier League goal on February 29th.
  • Marcos Alonso is the only player to score two Premier League goals on February 29th.
  • There have been just seven Premier League games on February 29th.
  • Crystal Palace, West Ham and Watford are the three Premier League teams to win on February 29th.

But what about footballers? What follows are seven who’ve plied their trade in the beautiful game, with Leap Day birthdays.

1. Ferran Torres

Birth year: 2000 (6 leap days ago)

Clubs: Valencia, Man City, Barcelona

What a difference four years make. On his 20th birthday (or fifth if you want to look at it that way), Ferran Torres was still at Valencia, making a name as the club’s boy wonder. He made headlines in 2017 when he became the first 2000s-born La Liga player, then going on to become the youngest player in Valencia history to reach 50 league games.

In the summer of 2020, Torres made the switch from Valencia to Manchester City, hoping to take a step up. The Spaniard played 43 times for the Citizens and struggled to make an impact in a stacked and constantly rotated attack. He returned to Spain two years later, joining Barcelona, where he has already made 100 appearances across all competitions, scoring 25 goals.

2. Jesper Lindstrom

Birth year: 2000 (6 leap years ago)

Clubs: Brondby, Eintracht Frankfurt, Napoli

Jesper Lindstrom came through the academy at Brondby, and made 65 appearances for the Danish club before getting his move to Eintracht Frankfurt. It was in Germany that Lindstrom started to become more known, playing 39 times for the Eagles across all competitions in 2021/22 including nine in the Europa League as they went on to beat Rangers in the final.

The following season, Lindstrom played 38 times across all competitions including 27 in the Bundesliga where he was directly involved in 11 goals. That earned Lindstrom a move to Italian champions Napoli last summer, but he is yet to make his mark with 15 of his 16 Serie A appearances coming as a substitute.

3. Benedikt Höwedes

Birth year: 1988 (9 leap years ago)

Clubs: Schalke 04, Juventus, Lokomotiv Moscow

Höwedes will go down as one of the very best to have come through Schalke’s esteemed academy, an academy that also includes Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer. And just when it seemed he’d be a lifer with Die Knappen, the World Cup-winning German centre-back would find his way to Lokomotiv Moscow, via a loan spell at Serie A giants Juventus. Höwedes spent two years in Russia before retiring, turning to coaching.

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4. Saphir Taider

Birth year: 1992 (8 leap years ago)

Clubs: Grenoble, Bologna, Inter Milan, Southampton, Sassuolo, Montreal Impact, Al-Ain

Saphir Taider turned professional in 2010 and has so far played for seven clubs across five different countries. He notably joined Southampton on loan in August 2014, with Dani Osvaldo going the other way to Inter Milan, but the agreement would be terminated a month later. He most recently played in Saudi Arabian club Al-Ain, but has been a free agent for 18 months now.

5. Taylor Twellman

Birth year: 1980 (11 leap years ago)

Clubs: University of Maryland, 1860 München II, New England Revolution

One of the most recognisable faces in US media coverage of football, Taylor Twellman made 30 appearances for the USMNT but never played at a World Cup finals. A brief spell in Germany with 1860 München’s reserve team made way for a move to New England Revolution, where he bagged 101 league goals across 174 appearances which places him among the most prolific MLS players in history.

6. Darren Ambrose

Birth year: 1984 (10 leap years ago)

Clubs: Ipswich Town, Newcastle United, Charlton, Ipswich Town, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Apollon Smyrnis, Colchester United

Ambrose brought a 15-year playing career to an end in 2016 after turning out for Colchester United, not far away from where it all began for him at Ipswich Town. There, he enjoyed three different spells. Since breaking through, he’d notably play for Newcastle United and Charlton as well as curiously spending part of 2014 at Greek outfit Apollon Smyrni.

7. Mike Pollitt

Birth year: 1972 (13 leap years ago)

Clubs: Man Utd, Oldham Athletic, Bury FC, Lincoln City, Darlington, Notts County, Gillingham, Sunderland, Rotherham, Chesterfield, Wigan, Burnley, Barnsley

Mike Pollitt was in Man Utd’s youth set-up around the time Alex Ferguson took over the reins at Old Trafford, but the goalkeeper would never play a league game for the Red Devils. Instead, he’d enjoy a journeyman career that would see him turn out for several clubs across England. Since hanging up his gloves, Pollitt has moved into coaching and he can now be found helping Preston’s goalkeepers.