Everton vice-captain Leighton Baines has announced his retirement from football.
The 35-year-old full-back made 420 appearances for Everton, captaining the side and scoring 39 goals after joining the club from Wigan in 2007. Baines, who was also capped 30 times by England and appeared at the 2014 World Cup, announced his decision announced following the club’s 3-1 defeat by Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League season. He was offered a one-year contract extension by the Toffees, but has only played 17 times in the last two seasons as Lucas Digne took over as first-choice left-back. “Leighton has taken the decision to stop playing,” said Ancelotti. “I think every Evertonian has to be grateful to him. We would like to keep him in the Club because his knowledge is very important. It’s his decision.”
Baines began his career with Wigan, making his debut in the second division – now League One – in 2002 and helped the club reach the Premier League in 2005/06. After 162 games and four goals, he moved to Everton in 2007 and would become a mainstay at left-back. He would earn a senior debut for England in 2010, accumulating 30 caps and scoring one goal over five years, as well as appearing at the 2014 World Cup. Baines’ 348 Premier League games for the club mean he is their third-highest appearance maker in the competition. He was named Blues’ player of the season three times and on two occasions voted winner of the Club’s players’ player award. Renowned as a set-piece specialist, Baines scored 43 goals in his career and added 52 assists for the Toffees. His 25 appearances for Everton in European football is the joint-highest of any outfield player to have worn royal blue, along with
. And the left-back was also a deadly spot-kick taker, netting 26 of his 29 penalties in his illustrious career.
Baines represented the Blues on just nine occasions this term, but his final goal for the club was a stunning long-range strike to equalize in injury time against Leicester in December’s EFL Cup quarter-final.