JOE HART celebrates his 36th birthday today – the same age as legendary Celtic keeper Ronnie Simpson when he won the European Cup in Lisbon on May 25 1967.
The 75 times-capped England international No.1 joined the Hoops late in his career, much like the legendary predecessor when he arrived from Hibs in 1964.
Hart answered Ange Postecoglou’s SOS to take over the problem position after £4.5million Vasilas Barkas had flopped so spectacularly following his move from AEK Athens the previous summer.
NO FLAGGING…Joe Hart has gone from strength to strength since his arrival at Celtic.
The blundering Greek was ditched after just one game – the 1-1 draw with FC Midtjylland when he was to blame for the Danes’ equaliser – and Scott Bain took over for the return Champions League qualifier and the opening league game of the campaign.
The Hoops lost both encounters 2-1 and Hart, languishing at Spurs as back-up to French World Cup winner Hugo Lloris, was targeted by Postecoglou as he put his revamped Celtic side together.
The former Manchester City netminder was recruited on August 2 abd made a quickfire debut 48 hours later in the Europa League qualifier against FK Jablonec.
Kyogo Furuhashi scored his first goal for the club as he kick-started the Hoops’ revival with a 4-2 victory.
Afterwards, posting on Instagram, the new netminder promised Celtic fans: “Delighted, honoured, proud, to name but a few of the feelings I felt tonight making my @celticfc debut.
START OF SOMETHNG GOOD…Joe Hart’s Instagram post from August 2021.
“It’s been a crazy few days but it’s all been worth it.
“Thank you for the welcome to your special club, I promise the rust will wear off soon and we can push on together.”
The towering shotstopper has been as good as his word with some solid, consistent and confidence-inspiring performances since that evening in the Czech Republic.
Just over four months after joining the club, Hart lifted his first trophy in Glasgow when he played a key role in the 2-1 League Cup Final success over Hibs at Hampden six days before Christmas.
The Premiership title was secured in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11 last year and the super-fit Englishman has his eyes on the treble in what is turning out to be an unforgettable campaign.
Postecoglou’s side are 12 points ahead in the pursuit of a second consecutive crown and face Michael Beale’s Iborx outfit in the Scottish Cup semi-final a week on Sunday.
Hart is now just two Cup games away from joining club great Kenny Dalglish in UK football history.
GLOVE AFFAIR…Joe Hart celebrates another Celtic success.
The experienced custodian is on the brink of joining the Hoops hero as part of football royalty in a clean sweep of major British honours.
Hart won all three major English trophies with Manchester City and the Scottish Cup is the only one to elude him so far following the near-miss in the last four when an unfortunate own goal from Carl Starfelt settled the issue a year ago.
Asked if it would be special to get all six trophies, Hart answered: “Yeah, but there is a long way to go, as last season showed. We got to the Scottish Cup semi-final and it just never happened for us.
“I would love to be having that conversation with a medal around my neck at the end of the season.”
CQN and our loyal readers wish the likeable Hart a happy 36th birthday and hope the celebrations continue after the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday June 3.