- December 11, 1984
Leighton Baines joined Everton from Wigan Athletic just a few days before the start of the 2007/08 season, signing a five-year deal.
Now regarded as one of the senior stars at Goodison Park, the left-back will playing his 10th season as a Toffee in 2016/17.
He has now accrued over 340 appearances in Club colours over that period of time, in which he has developed the reputation as a set-piece expert, particularly from the penalty spot.
Having been on Everton’s books as a teenager, Baines eventually joined Wigan’s youth set-up and made his senior debut at the age of 17.
He went on to make nearly 150 appearances for the Latics, impressing in the Premier League and becoming a regular for England Under-21s.
An attacking and tenacious left-back, Baines was a vital player for both his club and country, playing all England’s games in the 2007 European Under-21 Championships.
While on duty with the England squad, Baines became friends with Everton’s James Vaughan.
And the two became clubmates when the defender agreed to join the Toffees ahead of the first game of the season – ironically against his former club.
Leighton missed the first few games of the 2007/08 season through injury and once he returned he shared left-back duties with Joleon Lescott and Nuno Valente.
The following season was a stark contrast as he made the left-back position his own with a string of excellent performances which saw him included in Fabio Capello’s England squad for the qualifier against Ukraine in April.
He had already scored his first Everton goal – an excellent free-kick – as Everton lost 2-1 to Portsmouth in March.
At the start of 2010 Baines scored his second goal of the season (both penalties, the first having been scored against former club Wigan) in Everton’s 3-1 win over Carlisle.
With Ashley Cole injured and Wayne Bridge effectively retired from international football, Baines made his England debut in March 2010, helping the Three Lions to a 3-1 win over Egypt and enhancing his chances of playing in the World Cup in South Africa.
Baines finished the season with a flourish, recording nine assists – the highest number for a Premier League defender in the last decade.
He also received the Players’ Player of the Year award from his Everton peers.
On May 14, Baines was part of England’s 30-man provisional squad to travel to the pre-World Cup training camp in Austria.
But despite playing in both of England’s pre-tournament warm-up games, Baines lost out to Aston Villa defender Stephen Warnock for a place in the final 23-man squad.
In the 2010/11 campaign Baines proved to be one of Everton’s most consistent performers, and also weighed in with a few goals, including what proved to be the winner in an excellent 2-1 win over Manchester City at Eastlands.
Baines’ excellent form was rewarded in February 2011 when he was recalled to the England squad for the friendly against Denmark.
He went on to win his third cap, coming on as a late substitute for Ashley Cole in a 2-1 victory in Copenhagen.
He capped a fine season by winning the Player, Players’ Player and Goal of the Season gongs at the End of Season Awards and was most pundits’ choice at left-back when they named their team of the season.
He finished the campaign with an impressive seven goals.
Baines continued to be an integral part of Everton’s side the following season and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2011/12.
He travelled to Euro 2012 with England but didn’t get on the pitch as the Three Lions exited at the quarter-final stage.
One month later and ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, another call-up to the national squad handed Baines a start – as England got revenge on their Euro conquerors Italy with a 2-1 win in Switzerland.
His display was rewarded with successive starts against Moldova and Ukraine in England’s opening 2014 World Cup qualifying fixtures – with the former witnessing not only Baines’ first competitive international start, but also his first international goal.
Netting seven times for Everton in all competitions in 2012/13, Baines scored arguably his best goal to date away at Newcastle in January 2013 with a thumping free-kick from 30 yards.
And the left-back was again a double award winner at the End of Season Awards dinner, claiming both the Player of the Season, as voted by the fans, and the Players’ Player of the Season.
Baines was also named in the PFA Team of the Year for the second season in succession, and was the only outfield player to feature in every minute of his club’s Premier League campaign.
On 27 January 2014, it was confirmed Baines had signed a new long-term contract with the Club.
It came as just reward midway through another impressive season, with perhaps the personal highlight being two exquisite free-kicks at West Ham in September.
He started England’s opening two games at the 2014 World Cup in what would be a disappointing competition for Roy Hodgson’s side as they failed to qualify from a group including Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
But Baines continued the 2014/15 campaign in typically consistent fashion, going on to score three times in 37 appearances for the Toffees.
He also broke Graeme Le Saux’s record for most assists for a Premier League defender, with his record-breaking 45th coming against Manchester City in January 2015.
The 2015/16 season was generally one of frustration for the left-back, who suffered an ankle injury on the eve of the opening match against Watford.
He required surgery and a further setback meant that it took until November for him to get his first outing of the campaign.
He eventually finished the year with a total of 23 appearances and two goals, one of which was scored in the final game of the season against Norwich City – a match overseen by the temporary management team of David Unsworth and Joe Royle.
Baines enjoyed a consistently excellent 2016/17 under the stewardship of new manager Ronald Koeman.
The Kirkby-born defender netted penalties against Manchester United and Southampton, while surpassing 350 starts for Everton and signing a new deal until the summer of 2019.