It is truly a sad day for not just Everton fans but for devotees of the game in general as one of the best left-backs of our era has called it a day on his playing career.
Minutes after playing in his 420th game for the Toffees in a season final 3-1 loss at home against AFC Bournemouth, Baines announced that he would be hanging up his boots. The Blues had previously offered him a one-year extension to stay on as an elder statesman to assist in Carlo Ancelotti’s rebuilding project, but the longer he delayed in signing the deal, the more inevitable it became that he would not be returning.
In a statement published on the club website, Baines said -
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,
| Leighton Baines has announced his retirement from football.— Everton (@Everton) July 26, 2020
Thank you for everything, Leighton. pic.twitter.com/mhYYWiPHHB
In the end, it will be disappointing that Baines retired without ever having lifted as a Blue, but also as befits a man who has stayed under the radar for most of his playing career, he will walk away from Goodison Park with a minimum of fuss and no fanfare with today’s game being played behind closed doors.
Thank you for everything Leighton.