- National Teams
England’s most-capped player Ronnie Baker has retired from playing basketball at the age of 45 having begun his career in 1985.
The 5’7″ guard hangs up his boots after a long and illustrious career, and will take up the role of lead coach at Luol Deng’s academy.
“I’m really privileged to be working with Luol and leading on the coaching side of his first ever Basketball Academy,” Baker told his former club Brixton Topcats. “I will be concentrating on trying to help the next generation of athletes achieve their dreams, and pass on the knowledge and confidence that was given to me at that age.
“I’ve had an amazing career where it feels right to stop playing. When I look back at my career I knew if I put hard work in I would get somewhere but I didn’t imagine the amount of opportunities that I would have, and what a long lasting career it would be.”
Baker captained the England squad that achieved a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and earned a total of 156 caps during his international career.
It all started at Brixton, 30 years ago, and Baker bows out having won the Division 1 league title with Essex Leopards, although what is now his last competitive game, ended in defeat in the semi-finals of the NBL D1 playoffs.
Baker also played in 540 games in the top-flight and won eight trophies during his BBL career with four league titles with Crystal Palace (1996/97); Manchester Giants (1999/2000) and London Towers (2000-02).
Some of his former team-mates paid tribute to Baker, reflecting on his career, via the Leopards website:
“Ronnie was a great teammate in my England international days and we could always count on him,” said Steve Bucknall. “His ball handling skills are legendary and he’s one of the great ambassadors of the game.”
“Ronnie was my captain when I played for England, and I don’t think there could have been a better person for the job,” recalled Andrew Bridge. “Ronnie was a leader by example player rather than a shouter but when Ronnie spoke people listened.
“I think it’s always been underestimated how he held together those 11 egos on the Commonwealth Games team in 2006, and for all the work and time he put in throughout his career with England he deserved that medal more than anyone.
“Playing against Ronnie was always hard and fair but the thing I remember is he usually had a smile on his face.”
Image credit: Paul Phillips