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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Tributes to Jim Baxter
Jim Baxter was one of Scotland's all-time greats
Jim Baxter was one of Scotland's all-time greats
Tributes have been paid to former Rangers and Scotland left-half Jim Baxter who has died after a short battle against cancer.

Former Rangers and Scotland captain Eric Caldow played alongside Baxter at the height of his playing days.

Indeed Caldow was carried off with a broken leg when a Baxter-inspired Scotland defeated England at Wembley in 1963.

Caldow said: "He loved football - all he could talk about was football - he was just a genius.

"He was arrogant, but he wanted to win.

"That left foot of his - nowadays it would be worth 20m - just for the left leg alone!"


He became a cult figure and he achieved almost messianic status
  Bob Crampsey
Football historian
Former Celtic captain Billy McNeill found himself on the receiving end of Baxter's talents in many Old Firm matches, but enjoyed the experience of playing alongside him for Scotland.

"He was a typical cheeky, confident type of character," said McNeill.

"But he had this enormous ability and I think Rangers spotted that more quickly than anyone else.

"He will be sadly missed by every Scottish football fan."

Rangers' club historian Robert McElroy followed Baxter's career as closely as anyone and is in no doubt that 'Slim Jim' was the player that made a successful Rangers team tick.

"Every single member of that team was a good player, but without Baxter they were just a good team," he said.

"With Baxter, they were exceptional - he could almost defeat a team single-handedly."

"His very presence on the park was almost worth a goal of a start to Rangers."

Loved

Football historian Bob Crampsey was another huge admirer.

His ball-juggling antics at Wembley as Scotland defeated the then-World Cup holders England 3-2 in 1967 holds particularly fond memories for Crampsey.

"That's a defining moment for almost every football fan in Scotland irrespective of where their club allegiance lies," he said.

"Baxter going up and down that left wing at no great pace, keeping the ball of the deck with 90,000 people there was phenomenal.

"England had no idea what to do about it and Baxter was not about to solve that problem for them - it was a wonderful moment."

Crampsey recalls the affection with which he was regarded by Rangers supporters.

"Almost from the word go, he became a cult figure and he achieved almost messianic status.

"I would seldom use this word about football, but I think Baxter was loved and loved in the totality.

"Fans weren't blind to what others might have seen as faults. They knew he liked a drink, that he liked to stay out late and they knew he wasn't a dedicated pounder of the track, but they liked the package.

"I think, more than anything else, that he was the player they would have liked to have been."


People band about the phrase 'world class' but Jim genuinely was a world-class player
  Sandy Jardine
Ex-Rangers and Scotland
Denis Law also played in that game.

"It is a very sad loss for everybody. It is just a shame to see him go," Law said.

"He turned on the class in the 1967 game against England and was the best player on the park that day. To beat the world champions on their own ground was mainly down to Jim Baxter.

"He was just a wonderful player, a lovely passer of the ball, and it is very sad to lose the man.

"We have lost two great players from that side now with the death of Billy Bremner a few years ago."

Famous moment

Former Rangers and Scotland team-mate Sandy Jardine insists Baxter could have held his own in any era of football.

"Jim was a wonderful player who had outrageous skill and huge confidence in his own ability," said Jardine.

"People band about the phrase 'world class' but Jim genuinely was a world-class player.

"Jim could have played at any time and anywhere because of his skill level."

The Scottish Football Association added its voice to the many admirers.

Spokesman Andy Mitchell said: "Jim is one of Scottish football's all-time greats.

"Two of his greatest performances were in a Scotland shirt - scoring two goals against England in 1963 and the famous moment when he played keepie-uppie in 1967.

"That is one of the great moments in his career but he had so many other great games and performances for club and country and he will be sadly missed."

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