James Rowe takes a look at Lewis Baker’s time at Vitesse Arnhem and urges more British players to take the leap and ply their trade abroad. 

  • By James Rowe
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Arnhem is a long way from Luton where Lewis Baker was born but this year the midfielder has written his name in the history books of an established Dutch club by being part of the team that managed to win a trophy for the first time in their history. Vitesse Arnhem lifted the KNVB Cup after a 2-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar.

Baker was initially sent on loan to Vitesse Arnhem from his parent club Chelsea in June 2015 and made his competitive debut for the club on home soil against Southampton FC in the Europa League in a game they lost 3-0. His debut in the Netherlands came against Willem II and he scored his first goal in a 1-0 win against Roda JC. Baker went on to have a very solid season setting the record for most chances in an Eredivisie game, nine against local rivals NEC Nijmegen in the Gelderse derby. Baker scored a stunning free-kick but that was not enough to save them from a 2-1 defeat.

Baker’s loan in Arnhem was extended by Chelsea in the summer and he has gone on to have an exceptional campaign. One of his high points was scoring twice in the 2-1 win in KNVB Cup quarter-final against Sparta Rotterdam. He has been a constant threat throughout the season in a promising Vitesse side and has received constant praise from manager Henk Fraser and seasoned striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

During his spell at Vitesse, he has played 64 games scoring 15 goals and is accumulating experience abroad at the tender age of 22. The fact that he has won a trophy abroad already speaks volumes. Most English players never dare to venture abroad let alone win anything of note. He has that medal in his locker that nobody can take away from him.

Glen Hoddle, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne are all Englishman that are held in high regards by Monaco, Olympique Marseille and Lazio respectively for their skill and the joy they have brought to fans when they have played abroad and they are still remembered to this day. In this day and age, there appears to be less and less players leaving Great Britain for foreign shores.

A young man from Luton with a population of 185.000 is leading the way providing an incentive for players to try their luck abroad, learn new skills and embrace the experience and win. Regardless of what happens to Lewis Baker this summer, he will not be forgotten in Arnhem anytime soon. He has achieved in two seasons what many English players never do, play and win abroad.

James Rowe (696 Posts)