Though expected, the decision has come as a huge disappointment for Everton fans who were clinging to the hope that the 35-year-old might accept the offer of one more year with the Blues.
He made his final appearance at Goodison Park this afternoon, coming on as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth, his 420th game for the Toffees since arriving in a £6m deal from Wigan Athletic in 2007.
He leaves Everton with the reputation of being arguably the finest left-back of his generation and club's most consistent player of the Premier League era. Criminally underrated by the wider game and unfairly criticised for his part in England's meltdown in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Kirkby-born player has created more chances than any defender in Premier League history.
He scored 29 times in 348 games in the league and was named Everton's Player of the Season three times. His last goal in all competitions came earlier this season against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup, a 30-yard laser before the Blues were beaten on penalties in the quarter-final tie.
Baines wrote a personal message to the club and fans later in the day which read:
I am incredibly proud to have represented Everton for the past 13 years and my decision to retire has been a difficult one to make.
After speaking to my family, I feel now is the right time to end my playing career but I do so with many great memories at this proud football club.
As someone from the city, Everton means so much to me and it has been an honour to be part of the club for so long.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during my time at Everton, especially the fans who have been fantastic with me from the moment I signed.
Take care and thanks again,
"I think every Evertonian has to be grateful to him," said manager Carlo Ancelotti after today's game. "He had a fantastic career here and was a fantastic example for all his teammates.
"We would like to keep him in the club because his knowledge is very important, but in the next days he has to make a decision.
"The club is open to have him stay with us. It's his decision. We have time to think about this."
Reader Comments (134)
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1 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:24:20
A true Everton great. Best player for us in the last 30 years
2 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:26:57
3 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:29:18
4 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:29:21
5 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:29:44
Thanks, Leighton, and best wishes for whatever you do next!
6 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:30:33
7 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:31:28
Good luck to him if he does leave Everton. A proper professional who lots of players should look at and aspire to be.
8 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:31:36
9 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:33:44
Wouldn't be surprised to see him and Cahill at Finch Farm as understudies to team Carlo over upcoming seasons.
You'll be missed Bainsey. Will take a while to get used to our club without you.
10 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:33:49
Seems like a really nice fella too!
Good luck, LB3!
11 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:40:33
And I suddenly remember that pre-season friendly, somewhere like Accrington, when he gave a lift there to a couple of hitch-hiking blues (I don't think he was down to play that day). Man of the people.
12 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:41:44
13 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:42:00
14 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:43:20
15 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:48:59
It's been our honor, Mr Baines. All the very best to you and your family.
16 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:50:05
17 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:50:06
18 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:50:58
19 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:51:24
Obviously wants to break off clean (at least for now). Wish him well.
20 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:53:26
Thank you for the memories, Leighton, glad I was there as you scored your last goal (and what a goal) as we narrowly lost against Leicester.
I guess now Carlo will have to look for a back-up to Digne?
21 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:56:06
Only Ray Wilson is significantly better than Baines since I started going the match in the late fifties. And his partnership with Pienaar was as good as any that we, and arguably the Premier League, has seen.
Whatever he does, I hope it makes him happy, because that's what it's all about, being happy and content.
22 Posted 26/07/2020 at 19:59:44
23 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:00:06
Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman.
24 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:00:37
25 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:01:59
Ray Wilson would be his only rival for left-back in all-time Everton team. Ray was a very different player, the best I have ever seen defensively and technically, but he was rarely seen in the opposition half.
Leighton at his best was excellent both defensively and as an attacking wing back, so it would be difficult to choose between them. David Unsworth is his only rival for the accolade of best ever Everton penalty taker.
I am sure he would performed well for another season not only as cover for Lucas Digne but also, as Carlo has stated, as a model professional and example to the younger players.
Best wishes for the future, Leighton.
26 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:02:02
I suppose it had to happen some day but I would have 11 of the lad, even at his age, than any of this lot that we have. Been a pleasure to watch and they should frame his left boot and put it on display with Sheedy's. They don't make them like that anymore.
Carlo would give his left nut to have a player of that calibre albeit 15 years younger. Hope he sticks around to teach the youngsters what it means to be one of us.
27 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:06:22
Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman."
Wouldn't mind them back, all in their mid 20s...
28 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:06:40
29 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:10:16
ps: Lyndon, there was no extra time in the cup tie vs Leicester, went straight to penalties.
30 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:11:33
I love the picture of him after Fulham away one season queuing up for an ice cream. That sums him up. May not have won trophies but a proper icon and old-school footballer. Love him.
31 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:13:15
32 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:14:27
The highest compliment I can pay him is that, in his prime, he approached the quality of the peerless Ramon Wilson. My favourite memory of him will always be the last minute free kick in the FA Cup Replay at Chelsea, all of us behind the goal desperate for him to do it, and he delivered with nonchalance.
Thanks Leighton, best wishes for the future.
33 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:14:41
34 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:25:06
All performed with low-key professionalism.
35 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:26:35
It's a shame he never won anything with us and I had hoped for one final season. But that provides room to improve the 1st team and gives an opportunity for someone to step up.
It's important to remember that not every teenager, especially a defender, is ready to play first team football.
To have Branthwaite already looking like our must solid centre back at 18 is incredibly promising. The new John Terry, only hope he isn't as much of a shit but does win us some silverware.
36 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:28:01
Best of luck, Leighton, whatever you choose to do in the future... fond memories.
37 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:29:06
38 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:32:38
Or even arranging a charity friendly match to say thank you for his amazing service to he club through think and thin over 13 years.
He is universally respected and the fans will want to show their appreciation.
39 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:33:02
40 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:36:52
Think I've seen on here that fans of a certain age shouldn't have a 'favourite player', and I agree, but, if you're between 30 and 40, it's hard not to have a soft spot for Baines. For our generation, we didn't have a Championship winning left-back but we had a left-back who should have won the Championship in Leighton Baines.
I loved the guy for his music interest, his down-to-earth personality, but most of all his love for the Blues. You were good enough but we were weren't, Leighton. God bless you, mate, and good luck in whatever you do.
42 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:42:17
In hindsight we should have let Moyes take him to Man Utd but it became a weird matter of principle.
Someone mentioned him in the same breath as Ray Wilson â€“ I saw Ray and he could defend.
43 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:42:32
Deserved a better ending, as did Jagielka. He will be missed; good luck, Leighton!
44 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:44:50
I was hoping for 1 more year as back-up for Digne in a better squad but now our lacklustre team needs to find a new left back as well. ðŸ˜ I think next season is going to suck big-time.
45 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:45:14
A player I have the utmost respect for -he always gave his all. The best Everton leftback I have seen and I am nearly 60. I wonder what he intends doing? Will he stay in football?
Thanks for your unstinting professionalism, Bainesie.
46 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:47:37
But don't worry, folks. The production line at Vauxhall is churning out plenty of Astras... Interest-free?
47 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:51:23
I don't blame him for retiring though. Our squad is enough to make anyone jack it in. I'm surprised the club hasn't decided to fold and just jib it.
48 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:52:06
49 Posted 26/07/2020 at 20:56:08
For Everton, sadly there's a massive gap in experience and class left in this current squad.
What happens next for Leighton, I'm sure you'll find happiness and success.
Thanks for the fighting spirit and class act with Pienaar and for the great free kicks.
50 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:01:06
51 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:03:58
Baines is a credit to our club, an under-rated defender who scored some beauties, the free-kick against Newcastle was my favourite.
We will miss him on and off the pitch.
52 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:11:43
53 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:18:41
54 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:23:05
Baines played for over 10 years for the blues in the top league in Europe. He was a model pro who had genuine quality delivery, look at the stats. The Baines Pienaar combination was a joy to watch.
Good luck to him in whatever he does next.
55 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:23:46
Enjoy your retirement Leighton, wishing you good luck and good health in the future.
56 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:32:19
Sad to see him go. Great player... cool bloke
57 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:42:51
58 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:44:48
Only Lukaku's goals gave me as equal pleasure in any match.
Oh and enjoy yer sounds, man!
59 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:45:37
He was loyal to Everton when he could have secured a lucrative end-of-career move to Manchester United.
Ray Wilson was before my time so I would say he was the best "footballer" I saw play left-back for Everton.
60 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:48:12
Loads of great memories. West Ham away free kicks and that rocket at Newcastle probably the stand out memories, although his last goal v Leicester was up there too.
Good luck Bainesy, You deserve a better send-off than that debacle of a performance by your teammates today.
61 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:51:51
62 Posted 26/07/2020 at 21:57:02
63 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:09:51
65 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:19:38
Leighton Baines could have. He didn't. Top man and a great Evertonian. Tell you what, that is as good as a man can be.
66 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:23:27
67 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:31:14
68 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:36:29
69 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:40:43
70 Posted 26/07/2020 at 22:58:22
Me being an old fashioned "Let him know you're there" type of full back thought the both of them allowed too many crosses to come in the box.
Dont think I've seen Van Den Hauwe's name on here. He was a far better player than he was given credit for and his success gives him the edge IMO.
However Baines, along with Cahill is a superstar of the modern era for me... And was far better than Digne.
71 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:04:37
Leighton never brought his undoubted talent to our or England's big games, a contrast to the guy he was behind in the England squad, Ashley Cole, who destroyed us in the cup final. He was though, much better than 99% of the players he played alongside and will be missed.
72 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:08:02
Typical of him to wait until the season is over to announce his retirement. Didn't make the last few games all about him. Just got on with things.
Good luck, Leighton.
73 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:16:15
74 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:22:17
75 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:29:56
76 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:48:20
I challenge you to name 10 left-backs in the history of the premier league better than him.
77 Posted 26/07/2020 at 23:50:30
He was that good.
79 Posted 27/07/2020 at 00:20:39
Taking that down a level, an Everton legend is someone like Dean, Ball or Kendall. Okay, harsh and the overly demanding cynic taken out of me, congratulations on a fantastic career Leighton. Who knows, had you been surrounded by a better team or, dare I say, got your move the Man Utd then maybe you would have achieved legend status.
The best left-back of his generation, in my opinion, and a very loyal servant to Everton.
80 Posted 27/07/2020 at 00:28:21
The best left back in ther Premier League era, only Pat van den Hauwe is ahead of him in the best Everton XI I have seen and that just shows how good Pat was if Leighton is second to Pat!
81 Posted 27/07/2020 at 00:33:27
The partnership with Pienaar on the left was a rare bright spot in the recent years of dross. And seeing his name on the team sheet always gave a glimmer of hope that we could produce something special.
I was pleased to have been at the Leicester League Cup game and right behind that superb goal. That's the memory to stay with us.
I wish him all the best in his post-playing days. What a star.
82 Posted 27/07/2020 at 00:48:45
Having dropped him off at the ground, I had to walk some distance to find a pub that would let me in due to London rules on away fans within a certain radius. I watched the majority of the match with a few friendlys before heading back to the ground to meet my son, assuming we were heading for defeat having left with it being 1 - 0 in extra time.
As I walked through a nearby cemetery close to Chelsea's ground, I heard the roar and knew it was an equaliser. I then had to endure penalties based purely listening to the crowd reaction (think standing in Stanley Park and guessing based on noise!!).
I have no shame in admitting standing talking to a gravestone of a lady I don't know asking for her to bless Everton that day!! God bless her and god bless Leighton for a fantastic career. True story!!
83 Posted 27/07/2020 at 00:58:52
As modern football moved further and further away from everyday reality, Leighton remained a humble character and his down to earth manner made him so likeable.
All the best Bainsey, thanks for the memories and enjoy your retirement, you are a rare player who actually lived up to our motto throughout your career. NSNO.
84 Posted 27/07/2020 at 01:25:11
Impossible to compare the two as they were totally different players. Wilson was a better defender but Baines a better all round footballer and excellent with a dead ball.
Ray Wilson did, of course, have the benefit of being surrounded by much better players than the dross Baines has had to contend with, certainly for the last three or four seasons.
85 Posted 27/07/2020 at 01:29:04
My favourite memory came off the pitch when he drove a couple of hitchhikers to a preseason game at (I think) Wigan.
86 Posted 27/07/2020 at 01:47:04
There was nothing 'poor' about the John Pickles post, he is entitled to his opinion just as you are to yours, his post was not negative on the whole.
The whole 'world-class' thing is bullshit anyway because what exactly defines what world-class is? Do 59 caps make Phil Neville world-class? Were Kendall and Arteta shite (and not world-class) because they got no caps?
Bainesy was quality, both you, me and John agree on that much so best left at that on this dark day and at the end of another shitty EFC season.
87 Posted 27/07/2020 at 02:47:55
In my opinion Baines was not only a better footballer but he was exactly what England needed at the time that Cole was so engrained in the team. England were solid but couldn't provide that moment of quality. Baines had that. The homesickness thing was just a nonsense. If he'd played for a top four team, he would have been nailed on.
He didn't play regular Champions League football... but he could have. And if he did, it would have meant we would miss out on seeing him. Just reality.
There was a time where he was creating more chances, more goals than any defender in Europe. He wasn't just good, he was great.
For some reason my main memory of Baines is the midweek fixture away at Chelsea after playing 120 minutes at Wembley. He dominated â€“ was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. Best defender, best attacker, he controlled the game from left-back and was up and down all day. Just levels above everyone else on the pitch.
He really was that good. Shame he played in some fairly poor teams.
88 Posted 27/07/2020 at 03:25:53
Thank you for being a model of what and how a professional footballer should be. Good luck in your future endeavors.
89 Posted 27/07/2020 at 03:28:45
You had everything:
You could dribble, tackle, pass short or long... and what fitness.
Humble man of the people.
The consummate professional.
We will fondly remember you and miss you greatly.
90 Posted 27/07/2020 at 05:22:23
I think his goal against Leicester was probably the moment he thought that's it. Look at that penalty he took right after â€“ his worst by a mile.
Clear that he and Seamus don't think much of this squad. No wonder he doesn't want to stick around for another year of frustration!
91 Posted 27/07/2020 at 05:25:58
Thanks and good luck, Leighton.
92 Posted 27/07/2020 at 07:46:52
Also, I think we're all very sorry our club so often let you down insofar as rarely having players of equal ability, professionalism, and drive, to yourself, alongside you on the pitch.
Again, all the very best.
93 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:23:10
There's only Seamus Coleman left now of the players most fans had a connection and fondness of.
Far cry from the jokers currently employed by us stealing a living.
94 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:25:09
In my opinion, for about 5 years he was truly a world class player and could have played for any team he wanted to, and he chose Everton. Fantastic at penalties, a free-kick specialist with truly fantastic skill, which he proved hundreds of times with Steven Pienaar.
To have scored or assisted over 100 goals playing from left-back, whilst playing for generally poor teams just goes to show what a phenomenal player he really was.
Thank you Mr Baines, for all of the pleasure and joy that you have given me over the years!
95 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:28:30
96 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:40:34
I mention world class purely because every thread, including this one, includes someone referring to him as it. I made my point, with a reason, in response.
I do not want to get dragged into an argument with me providing nothing but negative stuff about Leighton, because as my original post shows, thanks Graham #85, I hold him in high regard.
97 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:48:27
It will be interesting to see in which direction Leighton goes now retiring from playing. I am sure we all wish him well and looked forward to him stepping out on the pitch to a well-deserved appreciation in the future.
98 Posted 27/07/2020 at 08:59:16
As others have said, he could have followed Moyes to Man Utd but chose not to.
If he had played for the other lot or Man Utd or a London team, he would have had more caps, wouldn't have been blamed for England's poor tournaments and the BBC would have had endless columns and pictures of his skills. (Instead, just a small footnote!)
99 Posted 27/07/2020 at 09:02:39
My recollection was that he wanted the move but didn't push for it to happen as many modern footballers would (eg, Lescott to Man City). He deserves credit for his behaviour in that sense, but I'm not sure it was a case of him choosing or not wanting the move.
100 Posted 27/07/2020 at 09:05:55
I bet he was sick of hobbling around the house and all of the aches and pains. Also keeping fit, training all week and sitting on the bench, is just a waste of effort when your body is screaming at you to pack it in.
Had he been playing every week with the odd rest he probably would still be up for it. He surely could go to a lower level but obviously doesn't need to.
101 Posted 27/07/2020 at 09:08:27
102 Posted 27/07/2020 at 09:12:12
I wish the guy all the best in the future.
103 Posted 27/07/2020 at 09:46:53
The saddest thing is he's been criminally underused since Digne came to Everton. Bad management hasn't helped either of these players but thanks for the memories, Leighton Baines, because you were a pleasure to watch at times, especially going forward, when you proved that simplicity is special. All the best footballers let the ball do the work and understand the value of a one-two!
104 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:04:27
106 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:25:13
Something broke today. It was always inevitable but still sad when it happens.
He played with passion, class, skill, energy. He was a threat (he could score and create) and he brought genuine balance.
Gonna miss him.
107 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:25:20
108 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:35:25
Great technical ability and he knew how to defend, remember when that was important for full-backs?
I'll remember 3 highs from his final season, 2 last-ditch tackles/blocks, Dunc's Chelsea win and in yesterday's game and the bullet v Leicester of course.
Thanks for the memories Bainesy.
109 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:38:01
110 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:45:00
Watching the game yesterday, apart from Baines and Coleman the team seemed totally unrecognisable. Even when Baines came on in the last few minutes for his last hurrah, he seemed different class to the others. With Leighton retiring, it now only leaves Seamus.
Seamus and Leighton were arguably one of the best fullback partnerships in the Premier League era. And the telepathic partnership and movement he had with Pienaar was always exciting. The two of them could rip defences apart.
And I'll never forget that free-kick against Newcastle. I could watch it all day. I'm not being biased as an Evertonian, but it has to be up there in the best 10 free-kicks ever taken â€“ up there with Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo. Every time he was on the pitch and a freekick was awarded in that area, I hoped he'd be the one taking it instead of Sigurdsson.
I really hope he stays at the club in a coaching or ambassadorial role.
Total professional and Everton legend.
111 Posted 27/07/2020 at 10:46:05
Him retiring has made me feel very very old!
112 Posted 27/07/2020 at 11:17:20
113 Posted 27/07/2020 at 11:40:19
An under-stated man and footballer, he has given us some of our best moments over the last decade â€“ quite an achievement for a left-back.
His partnership with Pienaar was superb, at times life-affirming. I'd love to see a well-produced video compilation. Would be a Lennon-McCartney of football.
As for the last two seasons, there have been many, many games I would have liked to have seen Baines starting, not least to give us more guile attacking. At least he got on the pitch yesterday.
No medals, but still a more glorious career than some with medals.
114 Posted 27/07/2020 at 12:05:08
I never, ever worried when he took a penalty. Ever.
Apparently he went to the Taxi Club after yesterday's game and bought the ale.
A class act.
115 Posted 27/07/2020 at 13:17:56
Thanks, Leighton, and good luck.
116 Posted 27/07/2020 at 13:40:52
117 Posted 27/07/2020 at 14:10:51
118 Posted 27/07/2020 at 14:18:27
Made me think of Stones, Rodwell and Barkley.
119 Posted 27/07/2020 at 15:01:12
120 Posted 27/07/2020 at 15:15:40
"Our best penalty taker ever?"
You obviously never saw Roy Vernon!
Good luck and thank you, Leighton, up there with the great Ramon Wilson as one of the best, and classiest left-backs to represent this once great club.
121 Posted 27/07/2020 at 15:48:57
He could have easily taken the extra 12-month contract, but showed class in not just doing it for the money or moving to another club, and decided to bow out at Everton.
Everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, however I can see this changing in a year or so, if he is offered a coaching role, not by me, but other people will be saying, same old Everton, giving their former stars a job at Everton.
The likes of Ferguson, Sharp, Snodin, Jeffers, Unsworth.
It will come, trust me, but I for one, hope that we can offer something for Baines, he at least deserves that.
122 Posted 27/07/2020 at 16:03:32
From a selfish point of view, I'm very glad he stayed, and will rightly be remembered as an Everton Great.
123 Posted 27/07/2020 at 16:09:59
Will you just Fuck Off!!!
124 Posted 27/07/2020 at 16:24:27
125 Posted 27/07/2020 at 16:53:53
Bill Kenwright has said what we are all thinking. So let's keep this as a tribute to Leighton Baines and not go off in tangents.
126 Posted 27/07/2020 at 17:16:17
I wonder if we have a buyback clause for Antonee Robinson to understudy Digne.
127 Posted 27/07/2020 at 18:34:57
I'm quite surprised no one has mentioned Andy Hinchcliffe in these posts. Fantastic dead-ball delivery from freekicks and corners and was a member of the '95 FA Cup Winning team.
128 Posted 27/07/2020 at 18:54:05
Even so he has turned down an immense amount of money, one years salary, for, basically keeping fit as he would not be called on to play that often.
It would appear that he didn't want to receive money for nothing.
What a decent bloke. All the best Leighton.
129 Posted 27/07/2020 at 19:08:47
130 Posted 27/07/2020 at 19:12:32
131 Posted 27/07/2020 at 19:39:32
132 Posted 27/07/2020 at 21:26:54
My point on this is that at one point, an aimlessly high ball was played into the Everton box as we defended the Park End. Tony Hibbert done everything right. He stayed tight, but did not and could not have predicted that Silva would take it down on the proverbial sixpence, take him out the game and dictate the subsequent passage of play.
Sometimes you have to accept brilliance. The entire ground applauded. Evertonians at their best; we appreciate good football, even when it came from the opposition.
133 Posted 28/07/2020 at 04:07:57
134 Posted 29/07/2020 at 18:16:49
135 Posted 29/07/2020 at 18:48:29
136 Posted 31/07/2020 at 22:20:13
What now? A cheeky 㾶 million bid for Antonee Robinson.
137 Posted 31/07/2020 at 22:57:37
138 Posted 04/08/2020 at 21:29:42
Good luck, Leighton!
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