Ireland legend backs Celtic keeper Joe Hart | OneFootball

Ireland legend backs Celtic keeper Joe Hart

Logo: The Celtic Star

The Celtic Star

One of the Premier Leagues greatest ever goalkeepers Shay Given reckons former Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart is repaying Celtic for putting their trust in him and will want to prove that he is still capable of performing at the top level.

Given, who was capped 134 times for Ireland in a hugely successful career, believes that if Celtic go on to win back the Scottish Premiership this season then Hart will be a vital factor in that success.

Last season under previous manager Neil Lennon, Celtic struggled badly in the goalkeeping department. After failing to sign up Fraser Forster in the summer after a hugely successful loan deal, Celtic went on to sign AEK Athens star Vasilis Barkas, who was a total flop. Our back up pair of Scott Bain and Conor Hazard also failed to grab their chance between the sticks.

Photo: Andrew Milligan

So although many Celtic fans, including myself, had doubts when we signed the former England international, Hart has proved a shrewd signing with his experience and stature in the game proving crucial in a dressing room full of new and inexperienced players at the start of the Ange Postecoglou era.

Given knows Hart well from their time together at Manchester City back in the late noughties. Hart originally lost his position as the club’s number one to the former Celtic youth player before a successful loan spell at Birmingham City saw Hart return the following season to displace Given and make the goalkeeping position his for many years to come.

5th December 2021; Tannadice Park, Dundee, Scotland: Scottish Premier League football, Dundee United versus Celtic: Joe Hart of Celtic applauds the supporters

As reported in the dailyrecord, Given said “When you’re a goalkeeper and a club comes in for you with the intention of making you their number one, there’s no better feeling.

“I had the same at Manchester City, they could have gone with any goalkeeper in the world and they chose me.

“It’s a great feeling and all you want to do is prove to people why someone has put their trust in you – and Joe’s like me in that regard.

“He’s a Premier League winner with so much experience. It’s just nice to see him back playing again and enjoying his football; that’s a big part of it.

Adam Montgomery, Joe Hart and Stephen Welsh of Celtic applaud the fans after the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian at on December 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“He’s number one again and that’s exactly what he needed after a tough few years. Joe’s a bubbly character and he’s quite a lot like myself; he’s frustrated when he’s not playing and all he wants to do is prove to people he’s still capable of performing at the top level.

“If Celtic do win the league this year, he’ll have been a big part of it. I’ve watched a lot of their games this season and he’s pulled off some big saves at key moments.

It’s clear to anyone watching Celtic at the moment or keeping up to date with Joe Hart on social media that he’s thoroughly enjoying his time at Celtic Park and has fully bought in to what the club’s all about. After years of finding it hard to nail down the number one spot at clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley, Hart will be relishing being the main man once more.

Joe Hart of Celtic rolls the ball out during the UEFA Europa League group G match between Ferencvarosi TC and Celtic FC at Groupama Arena on November 04, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)

Given added “It’s great to see him enjoying his football and playing with a smile on his face, because he had a frustrating few years there, definitely, and he’ll admit that himself.

“Celtic, a team I’ve supported all my life, is a massive club and sometimes people in England underestimate the size of the club, not just in Scotland but around the world; they’ve got a massive following.

“Those supporters can be tough on the players when things aren’t going well, but Joe’s been received really well since he joined; it looks like the fans have really taken to him, which proves he’s doing a good job on the pitch.”

After the horrors of last year in regards to our goalkeeping situation, Joe has been the breath of fresh air this season. The fact Celtic fans have stopped talking about Fraser Forster all together proves how happy the majority of us are with our current shot stopper. Although he came in slightly under the radar he may prove just as important an acquisition as Jota and Kyogo going forward.

Conall McGinty

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