(Reuters) - Everton defender Leighton Baines has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35, ending a 13-year stay at his boyhood club where he is regarded as among the best left backs in the Merseysiders’ history.
Baines took his bow as a substitute in Sunday’s 3-1 home loss to Bournemouth in the final Premier League match of the season, having had to play second fiddle to France international Lucas Digne in the past two years.
He had been expected to sign a new one-year contract to keep him at the club next season, but Everton announced immediately after the game that he had retired.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti seemed to suggest the former England defender may have a role at the club in the immediate future.
“Leighton Baines has taken this decision to stop playing, every Evertonian must be grateful to him, he is a fantastic example and had a great career,” Ancelotti said.
“We want to keep him at the club, his knowledge is really important.”
Baines joined the Toffees from Wigan Athletic in 2007 and made 420 appearances, with most of his 39 goals either stunning freekicks or with his unerring boot from the penalty-spot.
He was named Everton Player of the Year on three occasions, and at 25 has the joint highest number of appearances in European club competition for the side by an outfield player, along with Leon Osman.
He was capped 30 times by England, including at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and made 583 appearances in all club football.
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge