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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Baxter: simply sensational
Baxter scores from the spot at Wembley in 1963
Baxter scores from the spot at Wembley in 1963
Scottish football historian Bob Crampsey reflects on the wonderful talent that was Jim Baxter.

I was lucky enough to witness Jim Baxter's first goal for Rangers in a league game against Clyde back in 1960 at Shawfield.

The ball flew into the top right hand corner of the goal at the Rutherglen End. It was a spectacular strike and you thought 'wait a minute, this lad looks something special'.

He was an outstanding talent.

Baxter's main strength was his incredible skill and poise on the ball, but he was a real team player because he also helped to encourage those around him.

He wasn't the kind of player who shouted at colleagues or yelled out instructions, but the ease with which he played the game must have relaxed those on his side.

Enormous confidence

He always appeared to have so much time and space on the ball.

Baxter had enormous confidence in his own ability. I don't think he ever met an opponent who he thought was a better player than he was.

Baxter was an outstanding talent
Baxter was an outstanding talent
The thing about Baxter, which you couldn't say about an awful lot of the Rangers players, was that he always looked very comfortable in European matches.

It's a great pity that he didn't try playing on the continent. Had he been playing today, he most certainly would have done.

For someone who was regarded as irresponsible off the field, Baxter was always willing to shoulder his responsibility on the pitch.

He did an awful lot of covering for Davie Wilson at Wembley in 1963. Wilson did a splendid job at left back after Eric Caldow broke his leg and, of course, in those days there were no substitutes allowed.

Perfect penalty

When the Scots were awarded a penalty in that game, Baxter, who had never before taken a spot kick at senior level, did not hesitate to pick up the ball.

And it was an absolutely perfect penalty, which gave the young Gordon Banks no chance.

Baxter's confidence was already sky-high, having opened the scoring in that famous 2-1 win over the Auld Enemy.

Baxter enjoyed five wonderful years during his first spell at Ibrox and, although there was to be other great performances, not least his dazzling display at Wembley in 1967, it is a pity his career did not encompass a lengthier time at the top.

Baxter was always comfortable on the ball
Baxter was always comfortable on the ball
He had the physique of a player who could have gone on for fifteen years and certainly the talent to do so.

I think every professional sportsman must have a great belief in their own ability and in Baxter's case that confidence certainly wasn't misplaced.

However, let's say he wasn't the most dedicated of trainers. You can skip training in your early twenties and ignore diet. It becomes difficult in your late twenties and impossible in your thirties.

Hero-worshiped

Baxter always got very angry if it was suggested he was never the player he was after he broke his leg and, of course, 1967 was two years later on, but I think he moved to the wrong sides.

I think Sunderland was a bad choice. They were a pretty average side who weren't going anywhere and weren't involved in European football.

And, while Nottingham Forest were a team very much on the up, Baxter appeared to have lost a lot of his motivation by that time.

The return to Ibrox was certainly a mistake. He never really won the confidence or trust of Willie Waddell.

It's always very difficult to go back to a club, especially one where he had been hero-worshiped previously.

The fans wanted the extraordinary player that had graced Ibrox in years gone by and it was always going to be impossible to recapture the magic.

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