Football Features

Leap year: Six footballers born on February 29

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 10:19, 29 February 2020

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

  • Only six players have scored a Premier League goal on Leap Day: Harry Kewell, Eirik Bakke, Mark Viduka, Milan Baros, Craig Bellamy, Lomano LuaLua.
  • No English player has ever scored a Premier League goal on Leap Day.
  • The last player to score a Premier League goal on a Leap Day was Lomano LuaLua in 2004 (vs. Newcastle).
  • Milan Baros is the only player to be directly involved in two Premier League goals on a leap day.

But what about footballers? What follows are six who’ve plied their trade in the beautiful game.

1. Ferran Torres

Birth year: 2000 (5 leap days ago)

Club: Valencia

The youngest member of our sextet. Ferran Torres, who has exclusively played for boyhood team Valencia to date, made headlines in 2017 when he became the first 2000s-born La Liga player. He wouldn’t stop there regarding milestones. Fewer than two years after debuting, Torres – a winger by trade – reached 50 league outings for Los Che. That makes him the youngest player in club history to attain that figure.

2. Benedikt Höwedes

Birth year: 1988 (8 leap years ago)

Club(s): 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, where he’s currently still playing following a loan spell at Serie A giants Juventus.

3. Saphir Taider

Birth year: 1992 (7 leap years ago)

Club(s): Grenoble, Bologna, Inter Milan, Southampton, Sassuolo, Montreal Impact

Saphir Taider turned professional in 2010 and has to date represented no fewer than six clubs across four 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. Now playing for Montreal Impact, he can look forward to being deployed by countryman Thierry Henry.

4. Taylor Twellman

Birth year: 1980 (10 leap years ago)

Club(s): University of Maryland, 1860 München II, New England Revolution

One of the most recognisable faces in US media coverage of soccer, 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.

5. Darren Ambrose

Birth year: 1984 (9 leap years ago)

Club(s): 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.

6. Mike Pollitt

Birth year: 1972 (12 leap years ago)

Club(s): 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 Rotherham United’s ‘keepers.


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