Everton defender Leighton Baines has brought his memorable 18-year career to an end, announcing his retirement upon the conclusion of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
Having made over 400 appearances for the club, Baines is one of the most influential figures in Everton's modern history. But he made just eight appearances in all competitions last season, despite Carlo Ancelotti seeing him as a key figure in the dressing room.
? | Leighton Baines has announced his retirement from football.— Everton (@Everton) July 26, 2020
Thank you for everything, Leighton. ? pic.twitter.com/mhYYWiPHHB
The 35-year-old emerged from the bench for his final appearance in Sunday's 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth, and his decision to hang up his boots was first broken by Toffees boss Ancelotti, speaking after the match.
"Leighton has taken the decision to stop playing," Ancelotti told Sky Sports. "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."
Everton had offered Baines a 12-month extension but it's an option he has chosen not to take up.
With 39 goals and 67 assists, Baines will be remembered as one of the most prolific defenders in the history of English football. He was renowned for his set-piece ability in the early part of his career, a reputation that followed him all the way to his final match.
Having come through the ranks at Wigan, Kirkby-born Baines signed for his local team ahead of the 2007/08 season, when he made 22 appearances in all competitions under David Moyes.
The following season would see him establish himself as the club's first-choice left-back, and he would go on to prove a regular source of goals and creativity - famously scoring two free-kicks in the same game against West Ham in 2013.
He retires with the club's best wishes, and may remain involved in a coaching or behind-the-scenes capacity in 2020/21.
Source : 90min