Leighton Baines has decided to call time on his footballing career, as the left-back ends a 420-game, 13-year association with Everton.
The 35-year-old was offered a new one-year deal by the club in early June, but has opted to retire from professional football immediately following the conclusion of the 2019-20 season on Sunday.
Baines made his final outing for his boyhood club in today’s final-day defeat to relegated Bournemouth, replacing Lucas Digne as a 70th-minute substitute in the 3-1 home loss.
| Leighton Baines has announced his retirement from football.— Everton (@Everton) July 26, 2020
Thank you for everything, Leighton. pic.twitter.com/mhYYWiPHHB
Baines also remains the most prolific defender in Premier League history - his record of 32 goals and 53 assists is unmatched by any others in his position.
His 25 appearances for Everton in European football is the joint-highest of any outfield player to have worn royal blue, along with Leon Osman.
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 equalise in injury time against Leicester in December’s EFL Cup quarter-final.
Speaking after the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti indicated that he hoped Baines would stay with the club after this campaign:
“He [Baines] has taken the decision to stop playing. I think every Evertonian has to be grateful to him. 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.”