“We had sensational support against Real Madrid. The atmosphere was special,” Joe Hart

Joe Hart undoubtedly gets Celtic and being back between the sticks for Champions League football was perhaps something that the former England goalkeeper thought had passed him by when he was something of a yesterday’s man, hanging about Tottenham with little chance of ever seeing first team action.

A telephone conversation with Ange Postecoglou last year changed all that and the Australian manager of Celtic has clearly been rewarded for his initiative and his instinct in believing that Hart could add both leadership and quality to the Celtic side he was in the process of building. Joe Hart every week repays that faith in him and at Celtic he’s clearly rediscovered his passion for the game and loves every single minute of his time representing our football club.

Joe Hart saves from Vinícius Júnior during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Celtic FC and Real Madrid at Celtic Park on September 06, 2022. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Hart made a magnificient save in the first half against Real Madrid last week and at the time you may have felt that it was a significiant moment in a tense, tight match where the first goal was always going to be crucial.  Joe Hart prevented  the European Champions taking the lead and at the other end of the park his captain Callum McGregor was denied by the inside of the post after Liel Abada probably had too much time to think about his big opportunity. The best chance that fell to Daizen Maeda early in the second half, with the match still goalless, was one that Abada, such an instictive finisher, may well have scored.

After that Celtic’s chances faded as Real Madrid demonstrated that quality necessary to win mathces like this and in doing so proved themselves to be worthy Champions of Europe.

Yet playing for Celtic is what matters to Hart, not playing against any particular opponent, even if it is Real Madrid, as he explained in his most recent media interview. “Going away to places like Ross County or Kilmarnock, that’s what gives me fire. I’m gutted we couldn’t get the result for the fans against Real. But this club is a special club when it comes to the support so it really doesn’t need occasions like that for you to feel like you need to give back,” the Celtic goalkeeper stated, as reported by Scottish Sun.

“Real have been rattled many, many times and won games. They are a bit special when it comes to that, but that is them, and we’ll let them worry about that. “We can only worry about us, and we needed a little bit more.

 Joe Hart  reacts after Eden Hazard (not pictured) of Real Madrid scores their team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Celtic FC and Real Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on September 06, 2022  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“I feel like as soon as I put this shirt on, I’m in a pretty special place. We will work hard and we will have our heads down, and we will see where it takes us. That’s kind of what Real do, don’t they? They win Champions Leagues like that. It’s a tough one for us, we performed well in the game, but the first goal was crucial,” Hart said.

“We’re not going to base our confidence on one game, we’re confident in what we do and we believe in it. It wasn’t to be, but we’ve just got to move forward. We want to give the best account of ourselves every time we show up — that’s what is asked of us.”

The Celtic goalkeeper recognises and appreciates the incredible backing that the team receives from the Celtic support and states that the players want to do everything possible to repay the fans for this sensational support.

“We had sensational support against Real Madrid. The atmosphere was special. Look, we’re humans too, I know we’re out there on the pitch and it might look like we’re just footballers and you get a bit oblivious to it. But we’re not. We realise it’s a special place. We’re obviously pleased with some of the stuff that we did — but we are not going to base that off Tuesday night.

“We believe because of what we’ve been building and what we’ve been doing every day. We just have to perform on the night — last Tuesday night we didn’t ultimately — but we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and go hard again.

“We do believe in what we do. We’ve got a superb manager, we’re all on the same team and we’re ready to go, we’re ready to push. And we’re also pushed by this crowd, we can feel it. But that atmosphere doesn’t happen if they don’t believe in what we’re doing and we don’t believe in them.

“If neither of those things happen, we’re then not able to perform to the levels we did. We can’t take away from the fact that we’re disappointed, that’s the main thing. Credit to Real, that’s what they do, they are an exceptional, world-class team. But we’re just trying to stay in our lane and keep on running hard.

“Real have been rattled many, many times and won games. They are a bit special when it comes to that, but that is them, and we’ll let them worry about that. We can only worry about us, and we needed a little bit more.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. Real Madrid are the benchmark for all teams, including ours.

    What the game against them showed was where we need to work harder; defensively in systematic tweaks to make it harder to get in behind us, and offensively in being smarter in possession and taking our chances.

    Our teams headed in the right direction regardless