Date of birth
Forward Sam Baldock became a Royal in the summer of 2018, joining on a three-year deal from Brighton & Hove Albion.
Baldock’s beginnings were rooted in Wimbledon, as a young striker he came through the ranks with the Dons and followed the club to Milton Keynes in 2003 before making his full MK Dons debut in 2005.
He gradually began to feature in first team action more and more at MK and he played a part in the Dons’ League Two title win and a Football League Trophy triumph over Grimsby Town at Wembley in 2008.
Before the start of the 2008-09 campaign, Baldock scored his first senior goal… against Reading! Steve Coppell’s side ran out 2-1 winners ten years ago, courtesy of goals from Jimmy Kébé and Stephen Hunt, but Baldock got off the mark himself – turning inside the box and stabbing the ball wide of Adam Federici.
Having been called up to England’s Under-20 squad for a World Cup campaign in Egypt, the 19-year-old began to shine in League One, scoring 13 goals in 44 appearances for Roberto Di Matteo’s men. He hit double figures the following two seasons, bagging his first hat-trick at Colchester United in March 2011.
That consistency earned him a move to Upton Park that summer and he helped the West Ham seal a return to the top flight via the Play-Offs before signing for Bristol City at the start of their 2012-13 Championship campaign.
His best goal haul to date came the following season when Sam scored 24 goals to end the 2013-14 campaign as League One’s leading scorer – the sixth successive season Sam had recorded double figures in front of goal. That form prompted a transfer to Albion four years ago.
In his first year on the south coast, he scored a cracker against Ipswich and netted against Arsenal in an enthralling FA Cup encounter with the Gunners, only for a knee injury to hinder his start as a Seagull.
His best form as a Brighton player came in Albion’s promotion-winning campaign, scoring 12 times (including two against the Play-Off reaching Royals – one in the Carabao Cup and another in a league win over Reading at the Amex) in total as Chris Hughton’s side finished just a point behind title winners Newcastle.
After joining the Royals, his first goal in the hoops came from the penalty spot - hammering in a 93rd-minute equaliser against Aston Villa in the Midlands.