In 1959, Joe Baker was chosen by manager Walter Winterbottom to win his first England cap against Ireland. The Hibernian centre forward flew to London and instructed a taxi driver to take him to the team hotel.

''The cabbie gave me a funny look and asked why I wanted to go there. When I told him that I was playing for England he went very quiet. The next thing I knew, a police car drew alongside so it was obvious the guy thought I was just a crazy Scotsman and it was only after a phone call to the team manager that we were allowed to proceed.'' The man whom the teenager replaced in the No 9 shirt was none other than Brian Clough.

Joe Baker, who died on Monday at the age of 63, was born the son of a sailor in Liverpool in 1940. The location was one that came to haunt him for all of his sporting career. He only spent six weeks of his life in the English city before the family moved to his mother's home in Lanarkshire.

However, in footballing terms, in these days, where you were born determined your nationality. Joe's brother Gerry, later a regular with St Mirren, saw the first light of day in New York and went on to represent the USA.

So, despite the cap he won for the Scottish schoolboys, Joe was officially declared English. The qualification rules have been changed since then,

otherwise Scotland stars such as Andy Goram and Stuart McCall would not have had the bucket of caps they collected. No fewer than 11 of the Scottish rugby squad at the World Cup in Australia would not be eligible to don blue jerseys.

Signed by Hibs at just 17, Baker made an immediate impression. In his first season he scored all four goals in a

4-3 cup defeat of Hearts. His tally for the season was 29 from 45 games. The club record he set in 1959/60 of hitting the back of the net on 42 occasions stands to this day. He scored nine in a cup match against Peebles Rovers, and also put his name on the sheet on his England debut.

There were to be only eight English caps, which was very sad because there is not a football follower who doesn't believe he would have passed the half-century of appearances if he had been able to represent the country he always believed to be his own. When he was first capped, an English newspaper ran the headline: ''What is this Scot doing in our side?''

After four seasons at Easter Road, Baker asked for a (pounds) 5 increase on his (pounds) 12 weekly wage and was promptly put on the transfer list. The Edinburgh side have rarely been able to resist making a quick return for any of their outstanding players. The Italians of Torino came for him, and he was sold for (pounds) 75,000. One of his new team-mates was a Scotsman who had lived much of his life in England - the legendary Denis Law.

They made their debut in 1962, but a car crash involving both of them later that year almost cost Baker his life. He underwent five operations, while Law emerged with only a piece of glass in his

hand. Displaying considerable courage, Joe battled back to full fitness and was signed by Arsenal for (pounds) 72,500.

Law recalled his old friend yesterday. ''It was his pace which singled him out, there was simply none who was faster. He was good with both feet and strong in the air but it was his speed which counted.''

Lawrie Reilly, the Hibs

striker Baker succeeded, said: ''He was lightning quick, the Michael Owen of his day. He was also a lovely man with whom I spent many happy hours on the golf course.''

During his Arsenal days, he continued his goal-scoring feats with 100 strikes in only 182 matches. Ivan Ponting declares, in his book, The Gunners: ''He was a crowd-pleaser, flamboyant, brave, and blessed with dynamic acceleration.'' He moved to Nottingham Forest and Sunderland before returning for a second spell at Hibs. His final club was Raith Rovers.

In recent years, Baker was troubled by a heart condition that required a double bypass operation five years ago. But he was a familiar figure in the hospitality suites at Easter Road on match days.

A modest man, he said: ''All I did was score goals, my team-mates did the leading-up work.''

He died, from a suspected heart attack, while playing in a charity golf match in Lanark. His wife of 41 years, Sonia, and their grown up children, Nadia and Colin, survive him.

Joe Baker, footballer;

born August 17, 1940,

died October 6, 2003.