Joe Hart’s assessment of Steven Gerrard revisited as former ‘best in the world’ draws closer to Celtic change
If anyone knows what the Celtic have in Joe Hart, it’s Steven Gerrard.
The Rangers boss has faced the former Manchester City keeper on several occasions as a player, but the time spent together in the English sides was more relevant.
Hart won the first of his 75 England caps over 13 years ago. By that point, Gerrard had already been a regular in England for eight years and was well on his way to racking up 114 appearances for his country.
Gerrard was also Hart’s captain internationally, so he knows his character and whether he can be considered a leader, as well as his abilities between the sticks.
“I think we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Joe and I think he will end up being the best in the world,” Gerrard said at Euro 2012.
The next day England were knocked out by Italy on penalties as Andre Pirlo’s nonchalant panenka made Hart look stupid after his bizarre approach of yelling at Italian shooters.
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Gerrard repeated his claim of “the best in the world” just over a year later when Hart looked like he could be dropped for a World Cup qualifier against Montenegro.
“He’s a top-level goalie, one of the best in the world without a shadow of a doubt,” he told Sky Sports in October 2013.
“That’s the way the media is – you build people up to this point and cut off their legs when they get too tall.
“Unfortunately, this is how the English media operate. Until that stops, we might have a hard time going anywhere in the competitions. “
Hart’s reputation has since taken a bigger hit since he was frozen at Manchester City by Pep Guardiola.
A drop in performance saw him abandon by the former Barca boss, on loan to Turin and West Ham before joining Burnley and then Tottenham.
He also lost his place in England, but playing at the national level was enough of a challenge for Hart, let alone adding to his number of caps.
The 34-year-old has only made 34 top-flight appearances in the past three seasons, with his last Premier League outing coming in 2018.
To say he could be rusty when he joins Celtic would be an understatement.
He is due to travel to Glasgow for a medical examination today and is expected to sign a three-year contract at Celtic Park with a £ 1million transfer fee to Tottenham.
The duration of the agreement is sure to raise eyebrows. Goalkeepers peak later and have more longevity than outfielders – just look at Craig Gordon, whose departure last summer is ultimately the reason Ange Postecoglou is so keen to land a new goalie.
But Hart’s failure to break into any of the teams he joined despite his pedigree must be a valid concern.
He’s an upgrade on Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain on paper, but performance will really determine it.
This movie has also been seen before. A big name in England comes into the Scottish Premiership and expects to tear it up, but they can’t hack it and the experience is over early. Joey Barton, anyone?
Of course, playing in goal for Celtic should be a less physically exhausting gig than trying to lead the Rangers midfielder.
But there is the mental pressure of waiting that goes with it.
Hart will be well used to this with Man City and England, but after several years warming up the bench at smaller clubs, is he ready to be subjected to that kind of scrutiny again, especially when he might not? not really appreciate how much it can really get up here.
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