29 July 2006

Chris Baird

NName: Christopher Patrick Baird
Born: 25 February 1982, Rasharkin
Height: 5.10 ft
Weight: 11.11 st
Position: Defender/Midfielder

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 79 Full Caps (2003-2016), 6 Under-21 Caps / 1 Goal (2002-2003), 4 Under-18 Caps.
Club Honours: (with Southampton) FA Cup Runner-Up 2002/03; (with Fulham) UEFA Europa League Runner-Up 2009/10.

Club Career:
Clubs.......--Seasons-- Signed --Fee-- --League-- FA Cup FL Cup Europe -Other-
Ballymena United ........... ....Youth ..0 (0)/0
Southampton.02/03-06/07 ...........£5k .62 (6)/3 .5(0)/0 4(0)/0 ....... 2(0)/0
Walsall.....03/04 ..... Sep-03....Loan .10 (0)/0
Watford.....03/04 ..... Mar-04....Loan ..8 (0)/0
Fulham......07/08-12/13 Jul-07 £3.025m 101(26)/4 10(1)/0 5(0)/0 19(3)/0
Reading ... 13/14 ..... Sep-13 .. Free ..9 (0)/0 
Burnley ... 13/14 ..... Mar-14 .. Free . 5 (2)/0 
West Brom . 14/15 ..... Jul-14 .. Free  .9 (9)/0 .1(2)/0 2(0)/0
Derby Co. . 15/16- date Jun-15 ...Free
Fulham .... 15/16 ..... Feb-16 .. Loan ..3 (4)/0
Totals........................ £3.030m .

Biography:
Up to the closing weeks of the 2002/03 season Chris Baird had not even made the bench for a senior football match. That changed rapidly as he made his Southampton debut on 22nd March 2003 as a late substitute against Aston Villa at St Mary's, helping to set up a last minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw. He made his second senior appearance as a 26th minute substitute against Arsenal at Highbury on 7th May, at which point the Saints were already 5-0 down and on their way to a 6-1 defeat. Four days later Baird made his first Premiership start in a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Maine Road.

The following weekend Southampton took on Arsenal in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Baird had total of 158 minutes of firstteam football behind him but was given the right-back role of marking French international winger Robert Pires as Gordon Strachan sought to employ a more defensive formation than that which the Gunners had overrun just ten days earlier. In a performance that belied his lack of experience, Baird distinguished himself, twice clearing the ball from his own goal-mouth and even raising a good save from David Seaman with a 20 yard strike. Sadly Arsenal claimed the Cup with a 1-0 win courtesy of a Pires strike, but Baird was widely regarded as Southampton's Man of the Match.

Already a Youth and six-time Under-21 international, the scramble to include Baird in the senior Northern Ireland set-up was palpable. He made his Full Northern Ireland debut in a friendly against Italy in Campbasso where an experimental line-up put in a decent display despite a 2-0 defeat. The following week an almost identical Northern Ireland line-up took on Spain in a European Championships qualifier at Windsor Park. The game, played right in the middle of the infamous goal-drought, was predicted to be an easy win for the star-studded Spaniards, but Baird was part of a resolute defensive display as a highly credible 0-0 draw was achieved.

After such an impressive start to his senior career great things were expected of Baird. Sadly he was consistently overlooked by Gordon Strachan and his successors, Paul Sturrock, Steve Wigley and Harry Redknapp, over the following two seasons and he played just four Premier League games prior to Southampton's relegation in 2005. He did spend successful spells on loan at Walsall and Watford and he also retained his place in the Northern Ireland side through the closing months of Sammy McIlroy's managerial tenure and into the renaissance under Lawrie Sanchez.

It was mid-way through the 2005/06 season before Baird finally established himself in the Southampton firstteam, earning the praise of new manager, George Burley. Burley also began to employ Baird regularly in the centre of defence and it was from this position that he was named as Southampton's Player of the Year for 2006/07. Highlights of the season included his first professional goal, a header in a 2-1 win over Luton on his fiftieth appearance and a thirty yard strike against Cardiff City as the Saints made the play-offs.

Baird's versatility was put to good use by Lawrie Sanchez as he employed him in a defensive midfield role in games against Spain and Denmark in September and October 2006 due to the unavailability of the injured Damien Johnson. Northern Ireland's results in these games - a 3-2 win in Belfast and 0-0 draw in Copenhagen respectively - saw an impressive turnaround in form following a disappointing 3-0 defeat by Iceland. Sanchez's faith in Baird was further illustrated after his appointment as Fulham manager when he paid Southampton over £3 million for his former international player.

New Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington used Baird at centre-half for the first time at international level against Liechtenstein in August 2007, also appointing him as stand-in captain for Aaron Hughes. Although Liechtenstein were dispatched 3-1, the following matches in which he led out the team proved highly disappointing. He scored the own goal that gave Latvia a 1-0 win and in the following match Northern Ireland suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat at the hands of Iceland. Bookings in each of these matches also saw Baird punished with a one match suspension.

Although a regular at Fulham under Sanchez, Baird was initially a bit-part player under Roy Hodgson filling in only occasionally in midfield or defence. He had been on record describing defence as his favoured role but since early in the 2009/10 season Baird has been a regular as a defensive midfielder. For the 2010 Europa League final he was a surprise selection at right-back. In the Northern Ireland set-up too his regular right-back position came under pressure from Gareth McAuley though he still appears in midfield or central defence when required.

Baird's name was linked with a move away from Fulham over a lengthy period, with possible destinations mentioned including West Brom and Southampton. He did not feature for club or country through the latter months of the 2012/13 season as he dealt with personal issues. When his contract expired in the summer of 2013 he was not offered a new deal.


After a lengthy spell training with QPR, during which he featured for Northern Ireland against Portugal while unattached, Baird signed for Reading in mid-September on a short-term deal. Due to injury, Reading declined to retain him beyond the following January. He eventually joined promotion chasing Burnley in March on a deal that ran to the end of the season and he helped them secure second place.

After rejecting a longer term deal with Burnley, Baird joined the Northern Ireland contingent at West Brom were he provided cover in a number of positions through the 2014/15 season. For 2015/16 he joined Derby County and was immediately appointed captain. It proved a difficult campaign for a club that had been hoping to clinch automatic promotion from the Championship and by mid-season Baird had been dropped. He briefly returned to Fulham on loan the closing weeks of the season as they battled to avoid relegation to League One.

Despite the upheaval in his club career, Baird remained a vital part of Michael O'Neill's squad. He played in all but one of the games of the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, the only blight coming with a foolish sending-off for two quick-fire yellow cards in the key match against Hungary. Baird went into the tournament still first-choice, but after the team put in an underwhelming performance in the opening match against Poland, Baird was one of several players to be dropped. Ultimately that proved to be his final Northern Ireland outing as he retired from international football before the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifying series.

With 79 caps, at the time of his retirement Chris Baird was Northern Ireland's ninth most capped player. His international career had spanned the lows and highs of a tumultuous twelve year period, and he filled in with quiet efficiency in whichever position was required. His role in helping Northern Ireland to qualify for a first major tournament in thirty years should never be forgotten.

Official Fulham Website
Official Irish FA Website

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
03/06/2003
11/06/2003
06/09/2003
10/09/2003
11/10/2003
18/02/2004
31/03/2004
28/04/2004
30/05/2004
02/06/2004
06/06/2004
09/10/2004
09/02/2005
26/03/2005
30/03/2005
04/06/2005
03/09/2005
07/09/2005
12/10/2005
01/03/2006
16/08/2006
02/09/2006
06/09/2006
07/10/2006
11/10/2006
22/08/2007
08/09/2007
12/09/2007
17/11/2007
21/11/2007
06/02/2008
26/03/2008
20/08/2008
06/09/2008
10/09/2008
11/10/2008
15/10/2008
19/11/2008
28/03/2009
01/04/2009
12/08/2009
09/09/2009
14/10/2009
14/11/2009
11/08/2010
03/09/2010
08/10/2010
12/10/2010
09/02/2011
25/03/2011
29/03/2011
10/08/2011
02/09/2011
06/09/2011
07/10/2011
11/10/2011
15/08/2012
07/09/2012
11/09/2012
16/10/2012
14/11/2012
06/09/2013
15/10/2013
15/11/2013
30/05/2014
07/09/2014
11/10/2014
14/10/2014
14/11/2014
25/03/2015
29/03/2015
13/06/2015
04/09/2015
07/09/2015
11/10/2015
13/11/2015
27/05/2016
04/06/2016
12/06/2016
Italy
Spain
Ukraine
Armenia
Greece
Norway
Estonia
Serbia.&.Mont.
Barbados
St Kitts-Nevis
Trinidad.&.Tob.
Azerbaijan
Canada
England
Poland
Germany
Azerbaijan
England
Austria
Estonia
Finland
Iceland
Spain
Denmark
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Latvia
Iceland
Denmark
Spain
Bulgaria
Georgia
Scotland
Slovakia
Czech Rep.
Slovenia
San Marino
Hungary
Poland
Slovenia
Israel
Slovakia
Czech Republic
Serbia
Montenegro
Slovenia
Italy
Faroe Islands
Scotland
Serbia
Slovenia
Faroe Islands
Serbia
Estonia
Estonia
Italy
Finland
Russia
Luxembourg
Portugal
Azerbaijan
Portugal
Israel
Turkey
Uruguay
Hungary
Faroe Islands
Greece
Romania
Scotland
Finland
Romania
Faroe Islands
Hungary
Finland
Latvia
Belarus
Slovakia
Poland
A
H
A
H
A
H
A
H
A
A
A
A
H
A
A
H
H
H
A
H
A
H
H
A
H
H
A
A
H
A
H
H
A
A
H
A
H
H
H
H
H
H
A
H
A
A
H
A
N
A
H
H
H
A
H
A
H
A
H
A
H
H
A
A
A
A
H
A
A
A
H
H
A
H
A
H
H
A
N
L
D
D
L
L
L
W
D
D
W
W
D
L
L
L
L
W
W
L
W
W
L
W
D
W
W
L
L
W
L
L
W
D
L
D
L
W
L
W
W
D
L
D
L
L
W
D
D
L
L
D
W
L
L
L
L
D
L
D
D
D
L
D
L
L
W
W
W
L
L
W
W
W
D
D
W
W
D
L
0-2
0-0
0-0
0-1
0-1
1-4
1-0
1-1
1-1
2-0
3-0
0-0
0-1
0-4
0-1
1-4
2-0
1-0
0-2
1-0
2-1
0-3
3-2
0-0
1-0
3-1
0-1
1-2
2-1
0-1
0-1
4-1
0-0
1-2
0-0
0-2
4-0
0-2
3-2
1-0
1-1
0-2
0-0
0-1
0-2
1-0
0-0
1-1
0-3
1-2
0-0
4-0
0-1
1-4
1-2
0-3
3-3
0-2
1-1
1-1
1-1
2-4
1-1
0-1
0-1
2-1
2-0
2-0
0-2
0-1
2-0
2-1
3-1
0-0
1-1
1-0
3-0
0-0
0-1
FR 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
FR 
FR 
FR 
FR 
FR 
FR 
WCQ 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
FR 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
FR 
FR 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
FR 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ
CNC
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
FR 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
WCQ 
FR 
FR 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
ECQ 
FR
ECQ ECQ
ECQ
ECQ
ECQ
FR FR
FR
ECF
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
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-
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sub

sub
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sub
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sub











sent-off
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Northern Ireland Under-21 Cap Details:
01
02
03
04
05
06
12/02/2002
06/09/2002
11/10/2002
15/10/2002
11/02/2003
01/04/2003
Germany
Scotland
Spain
Ukraine
Finland
Greece
H
A
A
H
H
H
L
D
L
D
W
L
0-1
1-1
0-1
1-1
3-1
2-6
FR
FR
ECQ
ECQ
FR
ECQ
-
-
-
-
1.goal
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Pictures courtesy of OJM@ourweecountry and Chopper1 from OWC.

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