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SOCCER LEGEND JOE DEATH SHOCK; Baker dies at charity match.

Byline: RON MOORE and RICHARD GRAY

FOOTBALL legend Joe Baker collapsed and died yesterday in front of shocked soccer pals.

The former Hibs and Arsenal star, who re-wrote the history books by becoming the first Scot to play for England, suffered a massive heart attack as he played a charity golf match.

Father-of-two Baker, 63, collapsed while walking down the fairway at Lanark Golf Club.

Stunned onlookers included Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld, former referee David Syme and Kilmarnock boss Jim Jefferies.

Baker was rushed to hospital while paramedics battled in vain to save him. He died in Wishaw Hospital in Lanarkshire at around 11am yesterday.

His family were at his bedside when he passed away.

Last night tributes flooded in as the world of football mourned the loss of one of the true greats.

Hibs chief executive Rod Petrie yesterday said: "Everyone at the club is shocked and saddened by the news.

"Our thoughts are with Joe's family and friends at this time."

One of the first to pay tribute was Scotland legend Denis Law, who was a team-mate of Baker's at Italian club Torino. An emotional Law said: "It is extremely sad news as he was a very good friend of mine.

"We both went to Italy in the early 1960s and we have remained good pals ever since.

"It is a huge shock. I saw him a few of weeks ago and remarked on how well he was looking."

Although Baker had Scots parents, he was born in Liverpool and he made football history in 1959 when he became the first player from outside the Football League to be capped for England.

The Hibs star then scored in the 2-1 win over Northern Ireland and netted 159 times in four seasons before transferring to Torino. He returned to the UK in 1962 when he signed for Arsenal.

He became an instant hero at Highbury and notched up a hundred goals for the Gunners before moving to Nottingham Forest.

CAPTION(S):

GOLDEN YEARS: Denis Law, with Joe, right, and his brother Gerry; LEGEND: Former Hibs striking star Joe Baker
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2003
Words:350
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