The touching and emotional tribute Bristol City and Nigel Pearson paid to Nathan Baker

The manager spoke about Baker’s goodbye presentation

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Nigel Pearson described Nathan Baker’s half-time presentation during Saturday’s draw against Watford as ‘the chance for everybody to say goodbye in the right way.’

Baker was forced to retire from professional football in August for health reasons after the Bristol City defender experienced two concussions last season.

The 31-year-old suffered the second of his concussions against Sheffield United in November 2021, which was his last appearance for the Robins. He spent nine months recovering from the incident, but followed the medical advice given to him and hung up his boots at the start of this season.

During the interval against the Hornets, the City players formed a guard of honour as they welcomed Baker onto the pitch with his partner and child. His entrance was met with a standing ovation from the Ashton Gate crowd and a warm embrace from his manager, in what was an emotional moment all around. Baker was then presented with a framed City shirt and a bouquet of flowers.

“It was good that we could show our appreciation as fans, a club, his teammates, in particular, it was a nice touch,” Pearson said. “Gill Holt, our physio, spoke to me a few weeks ago about how we could do it and I just think it was a nice touch to be able to show our appreciation and the club to be able to do that too.”

Baker spent five years at the Robins and made a name as a tough-tackling, no-nonsense centre half. He featured 148 times for the West Country side and netted four times for the club. Although, despite his win-at-all-costs attitude on the pitch, his personality away from football is quite different. “He’s a really nice guy,” Pearson said. “Like Joe (Williams) said, he's probably the opposite of what you see on the pitch.”

His send-off was well deserved after his service to the club, and the emotion on Baker’s, his peers and the fans faces showed how much it meant.

Pearson continued: “A nice touch today and the chance for everybody to say goodbye in the right way because you don’t want to see players retire because of injuries or for him with the concussion side of it. It’s a really difficult thing but his health is the most important thing.”