Manchester City and England Number 1 Joe Hart is without doubt one of the stand-out players of the current England squad as well as being one of the most consistent performers for his club. But it is easy to forget that he is still in his first competitive tournament for England’s senior squad. After all it seems like he has been around forever!
Aged 25 Joe Hart surely has a long long future ahead of him internationally and hopefully over the next 10-15 years we will see him compete at countless international tournaments across the world, but what is it about him that is so special? To find out Keeper Portal has decided to take a look back at Joe Hart’s career from the beginning!
Born in Shrewsbury on the 19th of April in 1987, Charles Joseph John “Joe” Hart originally looked like he was going to be a cricketer and spent a brief spell with Shrewsbury CC before taking up the goalkeeper gloves at the age of 15. Very quickly the young goalkeeper made an impression and was soon signed up for Shrewsbury where he made his first team debut a day after his 17th birthday against Gravesend & Northfleet.
Hart became the first choice goalkeeper for Shrewsbury in the 2005/06 season and despite conceding 55 goals that season Joe Hart gained a lot of praise from the football world for his outstanding performances and was rewarded with his first cap for the England under 19 squad against Poland. Hart continued to put in a string of fantastic performances for his club and soon was winning awards such as PFA Goalkeeper of the year and player of the month as well as earning himself a place in the team of the season and it wasn’t long before rumours were rife as to how long Shrewsbury could hold on to him! The answer was not very long at all… whilst away on under 19 duty for England in Belgium news broke that Manchester City had signed the young goalkeeper for £600,000 with additional clauses meaning the price could rise to £1,500,000.
Joe didn’t make his goalkeeping debut for City until October of that year against Sheffield United due to injuries to the clubs other two goalkeepers where he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw but before long it was decided that Hart needed some more game time and began what was to be his first of a number of loan spells which would provide him with the opportunity to develop into the England goalkeeper the nation has been waiting on for a long time!
Joe spent a month on loan at Tranmere Rovers and another month on loan at Blackpool covering for injuries to their usual first choice goalkeepers during which time he was called up to the England under 21 squad before returning to Manchester City for the now City Manager Sven Goran Eriksson to announce that Joe Hart would be City’s #1 and soon after in June 2008 he was given his England debut against Trinidad and Tobago. At this stage everything seemed to be going right for Joe and the young goalkeeper looked set to be one of the first names on the team sheet for his club which would surely only strengthen his opportunities to become a realistic contender for the national team! That was until Shay Given came along… Upon Shay’s arrival in the January transfer window in 2009 Joe was instantly assigned to the substitute’s bench and didn’t play again that season.
A clearly unhappy Joe Hart couldn’t see himself sat on City’s bench and was eager to move away from the club for first team football; however the current manager Mark Hughes was unwilling to sell him and instead offered him the chance to join newly promoted Birmingham City on a season long loan. At first Joe’s performances were nothing to write home about and a string of errors gave Alex McLeish a selection headache, but he stuck with the young keeper and was rewarded in heaps with a string of fantastic performances which led to Joe being voted as the Birmingham City player of the year and being named in the PFA team of the year.
After a fantastic season at Birmingham Joe had to return to City where the talk was all about who would get the nod for the number 1 shirt, would it be Joe Hart or Shay Given for the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur? In the end Joe was given the nod and produced one of the best displays of goalkeeping I have ever seen in a single match which set him up to be the club’s number one for the foreseeable future and saw him go on to win the Golden glove award in 2010/11 for the most number of clean sheets, a feat which he repeated in the 2011/12 season when helping City to their first league title in 44 years whilst becoming the nation’s first choice as England goalkeeper.
So what exactly is it that set’s Joe Hart apart from the other goalkeepers? Well for me he is just an absolutely all round goalkeeper, his shot stopping is fantastic, his handling is assured and his distribution is first class. However the thing for me that really sets him apart is his attitude, never will you see a more confident goalkeeper who just oozes enthusiasm for the game and always wants to better himself. This attitude coupled with an undeniable natural talent is for me what makes Joe one of the best goalkeepers in the world today and hopefully over the next few years he will be able to claim that mantle along with all his other successes.