Leighton Baines grew up as a boyhood Liverpool fan. Baines was a water boy at the Liverpool centre of excellence and played for the Merseyside boy’s team. But that came to an end when Liverpool only offered him a £2 a week contract. The Kirby boy attracted interest from Wolverhampton Wanders and Wigan Athletic. He opted to stay in the North West of England to play for Wigan Athletic where he played 145 times for the latics and scoring only 4 times.
In July 2007 Baines rejected an offer from Sunderland to go and play for Everton. Leighton never regularly started for Everton in his first season only managing to make 29 appearances in the season. His second season saw more playing time for the Merseyside club after an injury to Joseph Yobo meaning that his two English teammates Phil Jagielka and Joelon Lescott were partnered together at the centre of defense. Baines managed to score only 1 goal that season for Everton a glorious free kick against Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth.
2009/2010 season is where Evertonians finally started seeing the full potential of Baines. Though he only scored 2 goals that season he was a very vital player for Everton. Down the left hand side he managed to form a very strong partnership with South African midfielder Steven Pienaar. 2010/11 was Baines most successful season yet at Everton were he scored 7 goals in the season while providing 12 assists. Leighton managed to pick up 3 awards at the end of season awards: Player’s player, fans player and goal of the season. His goal was a spectacular free kick from about 25 yards against Tottenham Hotspurs. It left Heurelho Gomes standing still.
With all these great performances Leighton was putting in England manager Fabio Capello decided to give him his England debut against Egypt. He was then selected in the 30 man team for England in World Cup 2010. Baines seemed to be the favourite to take the back up for Ashley Cole in the final 23 man squad. But he lost out to Stephan Warnock of Aston Villa.
In January 2011 Leighton’s close friend Steven Pienaar moved to Tottenham Hotspurs for a fee believed to be £4.5 Million. This leaving Leighton not alone on the left but seeming to be Everton’s only bit of creativity on the left for them.
Everton tried replacing Pienaar with Real Madrid’s mad Dutchman Royston Drenthe. The partnership between the two never seemed to gel as Royston would rather run and attack the team to rather try and pass the ball dragging the opposition out of position then pass, like Baines and Pienaar would do.
On the 31st of January 2012 resigned Steven Pienaar on a season loan from Tottenham which meant a reuniting of Steven and Leighton.
Overall at the end of the season the signing of Pienaar only brought the best out of Leighton after he scored 5 goals and assisted 3.
Leighton has currently gone onto to play 13 times for England scoring once against Moldova with a free kick taking a big deflection but it counted as his goal.
Leighton has created the most chances in the Premier League currently with 47.
He is on the best form of his career and some people are saying he is rapidly becoming one of the best left backs in the Prem, some dare say the world. At the age of 27 most hope he yet has more class to show.
Written by John Barlow (413)