MANCHESTER CITY’S Scotland Under-21 keeper Cieran Slicker has revealed Joe Hart is his inspiration.
The 34-year-old former England international netminder is winning over a host of new admirers since his £1million arrival from Spurs in the summer.
Hart made his debut in the 4-2 win over FK Jablonec the the Czech Republic 24 hours after signing a three-year deal and he has been an ever-present as the Hoops’ last line of defence in the following 14 games.
The one-time Etihad star has had to overcome some of the pitfalls that the game can throw in the way of progress – and Slicker has just experienced a howler after looking at fault for the only goal of the match against Denmark at Tynecastle during the week.
The 19-year-old shotstopper was making only his second appearance for Scot Gemmill’s side as they conceded three points in the defeat to the top seeds in their second Euro 2023 qualifier.
NET PROPHET…Joe Hart wears the captain’s armband.
Slicker – who is highly rated by Pep Guardiola and has already been on the bench for the club’s Champions League games this season – admitted he should have done better as FC Midtjylland midfielder Gustav Isaksen’s shot deceived him.
But Slicker is adamant he will learn from the mistake – after studying Hart, when he was at City.
He said: “Joe Hart was my hero growing up. When I was younger, I was a ball boy at City, so I used to watch him up close.
“I tried picking up as much as I could.
“Over the past few years, I have spoken to him quite a lot. I was lucky enough to be able to be in a position to speak to him.
“Joe is a great guy and a great goalkeeper, as well, with a great career. His advice to me was to try and play as many first-team games as I could and to never give up.
“He told me to try and get first-team exposure and that’s what I am looking to do now.”
THUMB’S UP…Joe Hart gives the okay to the Celtic defence.
Slicker, speaking to the Glasgow Times, added: “For me, playing for Scotland Under-21s is the equivalent of playing at first-team level.
“And I have also played for City in the Football League Trophy against teams in English League One and Two and that exposure has been great for me.
“I made my debut when I came on as a sub against Preston in a pre-season game. It was a great moment for me because I have been at the club since I was seven years old.
“It didn’t end the way I wanted it to end because I got stretchered off with concussion – I got knocked out on the pitch!
“But just to get that experience and train with the first team was great.”
Hart, meanwhile, is gearing up for another interesting away day when Celtic face Motherwell at Fir Park a week today.
The veteran made a couple of instinctive saves against Aberdeen in the club’s 2-1 win at Pittodrie last weekend to underline his value to Ange Postecoglou’s team, as CQN reported during the week.
Teenager Slicker couldn’t have chosen a better role model.