JOE HART has earned the privilege to take a final salute and bow out as a winner in surroundings befitting the occasion.

The much-decorated Celtic goalkeeper has been the epitome of a thorough professional from day one since joining from Spurs in August 2021.

The 75 times-capped England international No.1 cost a measly £1million to make certain the club’s back door was closed during his three years at the club.

Hart, who turned 37 yesterday, was apparently in the twilight of a fairly spectacular career that was expcted to be heading towards oblivion when he left Manchester City in 2018. There were pitstops at Torino, West Ham and Burnley without any appreciable success.

THE SIGN SAYS IT ALL…Joe Hart displays his passion for Celtic.

A year of playing as back-up at Spurs followed before he was apparently thrown a lifeline by Ange Postecoglou who didn’t take too long to realise that £4.5million Vasilis Barkas was an expensive dud and Scott Bain did not possess the required stature.

Hart signed a three-year contract when he made the cross-border switch and, unfortunately, as the old adage insists, all good things must come to an end.

The likeable personality, after two decades of performing at an extraordinarily high and consistent level, recently announced his time at the champions is nearing conclusion and retirement is nigh.

In his first two years at Parkhead, Hart played his part in back-to-back Premiership triumphs, two League Cups and one Scottish Cup. Not a bad haul for a sportsman apparently heading for the scrapheap.

And, of course, there is more to come. The 6ft-plus netminder will stand up to be counted with the campaign’s crescendo in sight.

With five league games to play, Scotland’s title kings have a three-point advantage as they pursue their twelfth crown in 13 years.

WE’RE BEHIND YOU…Joe Hart appreciates the incredible Celtic support.

Today, at Hampden, Hart has ambitions to form an impenetrable barrier to repel the endeavours of Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final with the holders just 90 minutes away from bringing down the curtain on an intriguing crusade on the iconic date of May 25.

Hart has the opportunity to say a final farewell on the 57th anniversary of the day Celtic made history as the first British club to conquer Europe. Seems an apt setting for a last hurrah.

The impressive Shrewsbury-born individual has admitted he is not too sure of what the future holds. On a personal note, your humble scribe doesn’t believe a full stop has been placed at the end of the Joe Hart football odyssey just yet. I’m convinced there is more to come.

In the meantime, I can only applaud the sportsman for his valued contribution to Celtic’s cause since his timely arrival.

At my advanced age and stage, dear reader, my old ticker doesn’t welcome any more palpitations than is necessary. I look at Hart between the posts and I feel reassured.

After over six decades of following Celtic, this comforting situation has not always been the case. And, alas, I have the grey hair to emphasise that endorsement.

Hart is on the brink of embarking upon a new path along life’s highway. I hope his passion leads him to a rewarding destination in the many and varied aspects of his very existence.

Follow your rainbow, Joe.



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