Leighton Baines: The one of the best left-back of the Toffees and England
An English professional footballer who plays as a left back for Premier League club Everton where he is also vice-captain and the England national team, Leighton Baines turns 34 today.
Early Life :
Baines was born and raised in Kirkby, Merseyside He began playing football at a local Liverpool primary school but, age 10, had trouble playing for a Sunday League team because he was shy. He has three children with his wife, Rachel. Baines is a close friend of musician Miles Kane, and is himself a keen guitarist.
Baines was educated at St Joseph The Worker Catholic Primary School and All Saints’ RC High School in Kirkby
Baines made his debut for Wigan Athletic in 2002, and was a member of the team that won the Second Division in the 2002–03 season. He was a regular in the first team when Wigan earned promotion to the Premier League in 2004–05. That season saw Baines score his first goal for the club, a long-range shot against Ipswich Town.
In July 2007, Baines rejected a move to Sunderland, after their bid of a reported £6 million was accepted by Wigan. In the following month he signed for Everton for an initial fee of £5 million, with another £1 million in add-ons, dependent on Baines’s appearances for Everton.
Baines did not play regularly in his first season, making just 29 appearances in all competitions, due to an injury and the good form of Phil Jagielka and Joseph Yobo at centre back which kept Joleon Lescott at left back. Baines scored the winner for Everton in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg against Slovakian side Ružomberok on 27 July 2017. In scoring a penalty in a 3–2 home win over Watford, Baines became Everton’s leading Premier League penalty scorer, overtaking the record held by acting manager David Unsworth.
International career :
Baines made his debut for the England under-21s in a 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification away to Austria in September 2004 under Peter Taylor.
Baines was named in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2012 in May, but did not feature in the tournament with Hodgson using Ashley Cole for all four of England’s matches. In September 2012, he scored his first international goal against Moldova in a 2014 World Cup qualification match, a deflected free kick which was the last of England’s goals in a 5–0 win.
Style of play :
Baines is described in his UEFA.com profile as a “dependable left back” who is “best known for his set-piece expertise and penalties”. But in his early years, Baines played in midfield and attack; it was only when he started at Wigan that he began to play in the left back position. Roberto Martínez had planned to redeploy Baines as a midfielder, in a similar change to Philipp Lahm. Baines has stated that he would be “excited to give it a go”.
Wigan Athletic :
Football League Championship runners-up: 2004–05
Football League Cup finalists: 2005–06
FA Cup finalists: 2008–09
Everton Players’ Player of the Season: 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13
Everton Player of the Season: 2010–11, 2012–13
Everton Goal of the Season: 2010–11
Premier League PFA Team of the Year: 2011–12, 2012–13
FIFPro World XI 5th team: 2013
Baines is the current record holder of the most assists as a defender in the Premier League. Happy birthday to this left back.