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Joseph Henry "Joe" Baker (17 July 1940 – 6 October 2003) was an England international footballer. Born in Liverpoolmarker, Englandmarker, he spent virtually his entire childhood growing up in Motherwellmarker, Scotlandmarker. He is notable for being the first player to have played for England without having previously played in the English football league system, and for scoring over 100 goals in both the English and Scottish leagues.

Club career

A centre forward, Baker spent a month on trial with Chelsea as a youngster, but was not signed. He signed professional terms with Hibernian after playing junior football for Coltness United and Armadale Thistle. In his first season with Hibs, the 17 year-old Baker scored all four goals in Hibs' 4–3 victory over city rivals Hearts in the quarter-final of the 1958 Scottish Cup. Baker played in the 1958 Scottish Cup Final, which Hibs lost 1–0 to Clyde. He also scored nine goals in a Scottish Cup tie against Peebles Rovers. Baker was Hibs' top goalscorer for four consecutive seasons, scoring a club record 42 goals in 33 league games during the 1959–60 season. In all he scored 102 goals in just 117 league games, and 159 goals in all competitions for the Edinburghmarker club.

In 1961, Baker was transferred to Torino for £75,000, after the Hibs board refused to give him a £5 wage increase from his existing wage of £12 a week. Despite scoring a winning goal in a Turin derby match against Juventus, his time at the Italian club was short and almost ended in tragedy. Baker was involved in a serious car crash, which meant that he needed life-saving surgery and spent over a month on a drip feed. It was a generally unhappy spell as Baker did not like the press intrusion, which meant that he and teammate Denis Law spent most of their time in their Turin apartment.

Baker recovered from his injuries and he returned to the UKmarker in July 1962, joining Billy Wright's Arsenal for a club record fee of £70,000. He made his debut against Leyton Orient on 18 August 1962, and in all spent four seasons with the Gunners. For three out of those four seasons (1962–63, 1964–65 and 1965–66) he was the club's top scorer; in total he scored 100 goals in 156 games in all competitions, making him one of the club's most prolific goalscorers of all time.

His pace and acceleration made him a highly effective and dynamic attacker, and he was equally adept with his feet and his head, despite his lack of height. With Geoff Strong he formed one of Arsenal's most prolific striking partnerships, but Arsenal's defence could not match the quality of their attack, which meant they were unable to finish above 7th in the league during his time at the club. After a poor 1965–66 season, Wright sold Baker to Nottingham Forest for £65,000.

Baker had a successful first season at Forest, as the club finished runners-up in the league. After three years at Forest, scoring 41 goals in 118 league games, he moved to Sunderland for £30,000. After two seasons there, he returned to Hibernian for a second time in 1971, but his comeback did not last long and he moved to Raith Rovers in 1972 after 12 goals in 30 appearances for Hibs. He retired in 1974, having in all scored 301 league goals in 507 games. His elder brother Gerry was also a footballer, who played for Manchester City, Ipswich Town and Coventry City.

International career

Baker was born in Liverpoolmarker to Scottish parents, and moved to Scotland while he was a young child. His talents meant that he was selected by the Scottish Schools team, but his birthplace made him only eligible to play for England under the rules of the time. He made his England debut against Northern Ireland in 1959, which made him the first player to be capped for England while playing for a club outside the English football league system. It also meant that he was the first player to play for England without having ever played for an English club. Owen Hargreaves is the only player to have done this since.

Baker won eight caps for the senior England side, five while he was playing for Hibs and three while with . These later caps were won when he earned a brief recall to the England side in 1965. Despite scoring in a 2–0 win over Spain, Baker didn't make the squad for the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

Managerial career and later life

Baker later became Albion Rovers manager on two occasions, but never pursued a full coaching career, instead running a pub and working for Hibernian's hospitality service. He died at the age of 63, after suffering a heart attack during a charity golf tournament, dying in hospital in Wishawmarker soon after.

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