Where are they now?: Joe Baker

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The Independent Online
JOE BAKER views Arsenal's meeting with Torino tonight from a unique perspective, having played for both clubs. The Liverpool-born forward moved to Turin from Hibernian in May 1961. Arsenal paid a club record pounds 70,000 for him 14 months later.

'I loved being in Italy - apart from the football,' he said. 'The savagery of defenders was unbelievable. I almost lost an eye in my first game.' Even so, he scored 11 goals in 34 games and appreciated the benefits. 'Against catenaccio, a chance was so rare you had to take it. I came back half a second quicker and got 34 goals in my first season at Arsenal.'

Returning from Italy was a culture shock almost profound as arriving there. 'Torino owned you, body and soul. You could compare it for discipline with the army, or even prison. I laugh now when clubs here talk about controlled diets and training camps, things the Italians were doing 30 years ago.'

Baker moved on to Nottingham Forest, Sunderland, Hibs again, and Raith Rovers before he retired in 1974 with eight England caps. He has since been a publican, a car salesman and run an ice-cream business. He trained Albion Rovers for nine seasons but had to stop when he suffered a heart attack two years ago.

Now 53, he lives near Motherwell with his Scottish-Italian wife Sonia, daughter Nadia, 28, and son Colin, 24. 'Since the attack, I don't have the same energy, but I just get on with life. I work for local radio in Edinburgh, covering Hibs and Hearts, which I enjoy.'

(Photograph omitted)

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