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Everton hit the jackpot with legendary Leighton Baines

Everton have suffered a terrible trophyless run over the last few decades, with mediocrity having swirled around the club for years now.

However, amongst all the misery a few star men have emerged for the Toffees. Some have scored goals, whilst others have been staunch defensive warriors.

In Leighton Baines, they had a perfect blend of the two.

Arguably one of the greatest defenders to have graced the Premier League, the defender earned hero status at Goodison Park due to his continued fine performances and his decision to snub moves to side’s way up the league table.

He was signed for just £6m from Wigan Athletic back in 2007 and went on to play 420 times for the club.

During this time, he announced himself as a sensational set-piece specialist with a wicked left foot. It was these traits which helped him score 39 times and assist a whopping 67 goals.

As a result, he remains in the top three goal-scoring defenders in the Premier League of all time.

Fans will likely never forget his free kicks in particular, with his double against West Ham United and his scorcher against Newcastle United the two that spring to mind.

Kevin Phillips, speaking following the 37-year-old’s decision to retire, claimed he was an “Everton legend” who was a “nine out of ten nearly every week”. His consistency was unmatched, and his longevity sensational.

David Moyes created many cult hero figures with this shrewd business during his tenure at Goodison Park, but none have written themselves into Toffees legacy as the “unreal” Baines has.

The left-back also formed one of the great partnerships down his flank with Steven Pienaar, who had two separate stints at the club.

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Everton's Richarlison celebrates scoring their first goal

Firstly, where did Everton finish in the Premier League?

The South African was not blessed with blistering speed, but his combinations with the Kirkby-born star were legendary around Merseyside.

For Baines, the only thing missing from his career is that elusive trophy. He could have left to join Manchester United when Moyes moved into the Old Trafford dugout but stayed put. Since then, the Red Devils have not been as successful, but still won a Europa League and both the FA and EFL Cup.

Perhaps if he had left, the rest of the world would be wiser to his talents.

But as it happens, few consider him in the debate for the greatest ever in his position. Evertonians know the score, however, and will forever be grateful to have witnessed such a cool, calm and classy presence grace the Goodison turf.

Article title: Everton hit the jackpot with legendary Leighton Baines

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