Joe Hart on Celtic’s Elite Standards

Joe Hart has admitted he is grateful to be involved with Celtic and the club’s insatiable appetite to improve standards all the time. The big goalkeeper turns 36 this week and has seen it all during his time in the game of football, enduring the highs and the lows of it all and striving to improve everyday on the training pitch and in matches.

When Joe signed for us, he was considered by many to be damaged goods; having seen a massive fall from grace for the former Premier League winner with Manchester City, to being sent on a nomadic journey on various loan deals and ending up at Tottenham Hotspur, as surplus to requirements under Nuno Espirito Santo. It was quite the decline for his career and he desperately needed a lifeline.

Well, Ange Postecoglou gave him just that, when he phoned the experienced stopper to come up the road to the Scottish Premiership and help a young and emerging team to grasp the nettle and catapult the Hoops back to the top of the table in Scottish football. He provided a security blanket at the backline for the team, along with Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, with all three men creating a strong triangular defensive understanding between one another.

It is largely down to that strong and sturdy base that we achieved so much during Ange’s first year in charge of he club. Undoubtedly, Joe has helped set the extremely high standards that his manager demands, along with club captain, Callum McGregor, and the Englishman couldn’t be more happier at that fact. He said: “Stuff like that means a lot because it’s the kind of thing I like to be associated with”, he said via Daily Record. “I’m pretty genuine. Cal is obviously an unreal player and a superb captain. He has stepped into a role where he has had huge boots to fill (replacing Scott Brown).

“Cal has not even tried to fill them – he has gone in his own direction and done a great job. I let him know straight from the off that if he needed anything from me, I would be right by his side. Hopefully that combination has worked but you would be in a minority here if you don’t come in and want to give your best every day. I love it here. I couldn’t be any prouder to be part of this team, this club and this city. I’m honoured to put the badge on and work for Celtic.”

The former England number one loves the intensity at Parkhead and the unstoppable quest for trophies is something that he relishes on the daily. “It was a good win over theRangers but it was a performance that we want to improve on. That’s how we work here. We always want to get better, always want more. There was definitely a period like this when I played for Manchester City.

“When you are literally chasing the title, every single cup, it’s like that. Europe is tougher but you still feel like you belong there and want to have that same drive. Sometimes it can be a burden but I have definitely experienced this before. I love that focus and intensity. It really makes you feel part of something. There is always something going on, a story going into the game. This will be the same, a tough game. They need the points and so do we.”

He said: “I have always had that bit between my teeth. I absolutely love it. But football hasn’t been set up for me to have 20 years of joy and success – it’s a flippin’ hard game and you have to keep working. I’m happy that I have had a lot more years when I’ve been able to be part of something than not. Every club has been different in terms of what has been expected.

“I have been a part of clubs where the fans have been on the turn and everything is negative. I’ve been part of clubs where anything is a positive and you can’t really lose. You just play each unique situation. This season Ange has come in on the back of a disappointing one and Covid, which all adds to the story. He has been exceptional and I have loved every minute so far of being part of that story.”

On whether or not he will extend his stay in Glasgow’s East End and perhaps even finish his illustrious career here, the ‘keeper replied: “I still have another year on my contract, so I don’t really feel that conversation needs to be had. I’m in a special part of my career when I’m not chasing a contract or worrying about negotiations. Conversations like that will probably happen when they need to be had but I don’t need to be knocking doors down.

“And I certainly don’t expect people to be badgering me. I’m a lot older and I don’t see that as a threat. I see that as a fact. No one is irreplaceable. No one is more important than the club. But it’s not something you should be down about. Stay on your toes and be damn happy with what you’ve got. Give it your absolute all and break the back out of it.”

Paul Gillespie

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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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