JOE HART will be out of contract in four months’ time – and the 36-year-old keeper admits he does not know what the future holds.
The 75 times-capped England international has proved to be a genuine bargain at a mere £1million when he arrived from Spurs in August 2021.
Ange Postecoglou took one look at Vasilis Barkas and decided the most expensive netminder in the club’s history – bought for £4.5million from AEK Athens the previous summer – was not good enough to protect his team’s interests.
I’M IN CHARGE…Joe Hart prepares to start another Celtic attack.
Scott Bain played two games – defeats against FC Midtjylland and Hearts – and was placed in the back-up category as the new manager sent out an SOS for a reliable shotstopper.
Hart answered the call and has been a rock as the last line of defence ever since, although, of course, as any custodian will accept as part of the job, he has had his critics.
But the likeable Englishman can point to five trophies in his first two years in Glasgow and he is totally focused on adding two more with a league and Cup double by the time the curtain comes down on this crusade.
Brendan Rodgers has looked at other positions – mainly left-back and striker – as he attempts to strengthen his squad for the crucial second part of the campaign.
The Irishman admitted earlier this month he would sit down with his keeper closer to the end of the season to discuss his future.
Whether that will see the former Manchester City No.1 being offered an extension remains unclear, but what is important to the thorough professional is more silverware success for the champions.
ONE…Joe Hart dives to his right to deny Ross County’s Jordan White in the fading moments on Saturday.
TWO…Hart scrambles to gather the rebound as George Harmon closes in.
MY BALL…the Celtic keeper swoops onto the deflection to make sure of a clean sheet and three points for the Hoops.
Looking at his contract situation, Hart said: “I don’t think it’s too important at the moment, if I’m honest. We have far more important things to focus on.
“From the moment I came up here, I’ve always said I’m just looking forward to playing football and not really thinking about that side of it.
“I can only say I love being part of this team. The manager has been great to me, the goalkeeping coach, the lads – I love being round them and turning out every single day.
“How long can I stay at the top? Who knows – that’s out of my hands, isn’t it?
“One thing I can leave in my hands is I can look after myself, work hard and physically be ready to train. I can push myself every single day. I can’t see that changing whether people want me as a professional footballer or not.
“It’s how I like to live my life.”
Matt O’Riley and Cameron Carter-Vickers are among two of the Hoops stars to sign enhanced deals this season, but that does not interfere with the goalkeeper’s thought process.
TRIUMPHANT…Joe Hart celebrates a Celtic victory.
Hart, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I’m the other side of the Cameron and Matt O’Riley situations and I’m pleased about that because I can just focus on playing football. I’m contracted to this amazing club and I love turning up every day and doing my best.
“I don’t think I’ve ever not done that. Every single day I’ve loved it, every opportunity that’s come my way – Shrewsbury, Blackpool, Tranmere, City, Birmingham, going to play abroad with Torino.
“What a life, what an amazing opportunity for someone who loves playing football.”
Hart, who turns 37 in April, added: “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I still love getting up every day and looking forward. Nothing has changed.
“I live in the present like I did when I was 16, 15, 14. It’s about the next opportunity, the next training session, the next time I get to appear in this stadium.
“That’s not because I’m getting older. You could have asked the same thing of me 20 years ago and got the same answer.”