For some football fans their last sighting of Joe Hart may have been in a rather awful shampoo advert. Others will have followed his career far more closely, whilst some may simply have thought he disappeared without trace once he left Man City.
If you aren’t sure what happened to him, read on, as we chart his rise, fall, and rise again. The keeper, who made his England debut almost 15 years ago, will turn 36 on the 19th April 2023, so he might just have a fair few more seasons in him yet!
Early Career: Shrewsbury, City and England
Born in Shrewsbury, the 6ft 5in keeper sat on the first team bench for his hometown club at the age of just 15. He would have to wait until the day after his 17th birthday to make his debut at the end of the 2003/04 season but already it was clear he was going to be something special.
In 2005/006 he was the club’s number one, playing every game and earning his first England Under 19 cap. He was being watched by almost all Premier League sides but Man City took the plunge and paid around £600,000 for him on the 1st July 2006. He went out on loan a number of times but by 2007/08 City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson had named him as his number one, stating that he was “one of the biggest talents in this country as a goalkeeper”.
On the 1st June 2008 he made his full England debut, winning the first of 75 caps against Trinidad & Tobago. Things would not be all plain sailing though and after the arrival of Shay Given, Hart was second choice. However, by 2010/11 he was back as City’s first-choice stopper and he played at least 31 Premier League games in each of the next six seasons for City, and the majority of matches for England too.
Pep says: “Can you kick it?”
Hart won two league titles, two EFL Cups and one FA Cup with City and was picked by a succession of England managers. However, he was disappointing at Euro 2016 and when Man City appointed Pep Guardiola as their new boss in 2016 it quickly became apparent that Hart’s face didn’t fit.
Or rather, that his feet didn’t. Or, to end the metaphors, that Pep wanted a keeper with better distribution and confidence with the ball at his feet. At the time it seemed like a crazy move to many, with Guardiola seemingly set to discard England’s number one without really giving him a chance.
Hart was sent on loan to Torino for the season, a surprise move to Serie A given there was plenty of interest in him from bigger teams. He featured very regularly but his confidence seemed badly affected by his treatment at City, and after making too many mistakes, Torino opted not to sign the Shrewsbury man.
The Wilderness Years
Another season-long loan followed, this time to West Ham, with Guardiola clear that Hart was surplus to requirements. In 2017/18 he only made 19 PL appearances for the Hammers after his struggles continued and he was dropped from the England squad, failing to make the cut for Gareth Southgate’s 2018 squad for Russia.
That summer Burnley signed Hart for around £3.5m but with much competition from Nick Pope and Tom Heaton he only made another 19 appearances in his first season there. The following campaign he only featured three times, all in the cups, and after that was released.
In 2020 a free transfer to Spurs followed but Hart played just 10 times for the club. New boss Nuno Espirito Santos made it very clear that the keeper was not in his plans. He reportedly told the former England man “The ball’s too quick for you, you’re too old, you’re not moving, you’ve got no strength in your body.” Have that Joe.
Celtic and Trophies as Hart Bounces Back
Santos is a former keeper but he seemingly got it wrong with Hart, selling him to Celtic in August 2021. Given Hugo Lloris has hardly been a sensation in recent years it looks more and more like that was the wrong call for Tottenham. Santos was soon sacked from Spurs but north of the boarder Hart has thrived.
He has played 95 games for the Bhoys at the time of writing, in all competitions, including 30 in the league in his first campaign and anther 30 and counting in 2022/23. In the current season he also made six Champions League appearances and during his time with Celtic has been adding substantial silverware to his personal trophy cabinet.
Some may question the quality of football in Scotland but even so, Hart is certainly proving there is plenty of life left in him. He has won two Scottish League Cups and a Scottish Premiership title (with a second surely set to follow) with Celtic. Not bad going for someone too old, too weak and too slow! For the record Nuno is currently managing Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia!