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Dublin: 8°C Saturday 15 May 2021

'One of the best I’ve played with' - Coleman on retiring defender with most assists in Premier League history

The pair have been team-mates at Everton for over a decade.

Seamus Coleman in action with Leighton Baines.
Seamus Coleman in action with Leighton Baines.
Image: EMPICS Sport

SEAMUS COLEMAN HAS saluted the career of Everton hero Leighton Baines, who announced his retirement this weekend after 13 years at at Goodison Park.

The former England International made his announcement on Sunday after making a substitute appearance in his side’s final Premier League game of the season against Bournemouth.

Baines made 420 appearances for Everton since his arrival in 2007, registering the highest number of assists in Premier League history as a defender.

Baines was out of contract and, despite the club offering him the chance to extend it by 12 months, he decided to retire.

Coleman, who played with Baines for more than a decade after coming to Everton in 2009, says the 35-year-old has left a lasting impact on how the game is played by full-backs.

In my time at Everton, he is hands down one of, if not the best, players I’ve played with,” Coleman told the club website.

“As a footballer every day he was so professional, always in the gym and always the best player in training.

“Even until last week. That is testament to how he’s looked after himself throughout his career.

“You hear pundits and people talking about full-backs changing the game. Leighton Baines was one of the players who helped change the game for attacking full-backs 10 years ago.

There was a five-year period, at least, when he was the best left-back in England and, possibly, in Europe.

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“Under David Moyes [Baines’ manager for his first six years at Everton], you had your left-back winning games for you, which is incredible. He was an unbelievable talent, a natural talent with amazing ability. We will miss him massively.”

Coleman added:

“He has a great way of being able to mix with all members of the squad. They all really respect and admire him.

“If that is building a relationship with young players like Tom [Davies] and Mason [Holgate], or being there for me in the past six months, which was a busy time as captain with everything going on.

“He was a fan playing for the club. He genuinely cares about the club and wants it to do well.

“We have been so lucky to have him and he is going to be genuinely missed in the changing room. We’ve seen so many people come and go and every player had so much respect for him. He’s always been there to help them any way he can.”

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