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
It marks the end of an exceptional career, during which Baines also won 30 England caps, representing his country at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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.”