JOE HART is entering the final year of his Celtic contract after arriving in a £1million switch from Spurs in August 2021.
The 36-year-old much-decorated keeper, who won 75 caps for England, solved the Hoops’ No.1 problem that had haunted them the previous year.
Vasilis Barkas, a £4.5million misfit from AEK Athens, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard had shared the netminding duties between them as the team toiled throughout a disastrous campaign that saw the bid for a historic tenth successive title blown shortly after the turn of the year as Neil Lennon lost his job and the team limped through their first trophyless crusade in 11 years.
HAPPY DAZE…Joe Hart acknowledges the acclaim of the Celtic support after the Scottish Cup win last month.
Ange Postecoglou took over as manager in June and two months later brought in Hart whose career looked to be ebbing to a sad finale.
The move to Scotland was the kiss of life required and the shotstopper has been a key figure in the club’s five domestic trophies, including a world record eighth treble last time out.
Hart is hoping to impress second time-around gaffer Brendan Rodgers, but has no intention of pleading his case with the Irishman.
He believes deeds speak louder than words as the former Manchester City star said: “Those are conversations you never have. You’d get lost if you wanted to have those. That is almost an insecurity.
“I’m just going to offer my best. I have quite a lot behind me that puts me in decent stead, but I don’t rely on that at all.
“Every single one of us is going to be pushing. The moment you rest is the moment you struggle. I kind of feel that every day. I don’t need to prove anything, but I want to.
CROWNING GLORY…Joe Hart celebrates Celtic’s second successive title.
“I want to push every single day, I want to give my best and give someone a decision to make.
“I have learned over the many years that is all I can offer. However someone wants to take it and whatever decision they want to make is completely up to them. That’s why people get paid the big money to be in charge of football teams.
“But I know all I can do is give my best, show my best and see where that takes me.”
Reflecting on his ‘lost’ time at Burnley and in London, Hart, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “With Brendan coming in and a lot of the staff being the same, I think I am understood.
“I wasn’t necessarily understood, I don’t think, in the couple of years that didn’t go as well on paper for me and I don’t mean that I struggled or people were rude to me. It’s just football was a little bit indifferent for me at the time and I needed to have an honest conversation at that moment. I did.
“Luckily Ange responded and understood me. And I’m up here now, I’m settled and feeling good.
“The majority of us had a great time under Ange and absolutely loved being part of those two years of real exceptional football, exciting football, on-the-edge football.
BOOT BHOY…Joe Hart hammers the ball into the crowd after the 2-1 derby triumph in February’s League Cup Final.
“We wish him well and then Brendan has come through the door with his ideas and how he wants it. You just can’t help getting that buzz. The moment you don’t get that buzz, it is time for you to leave.”
Quizzed if he felt 18 again, Hart smiled: “I don’t think you ever change from feeling like you’re 18, do you? That’s one of the things that comes with this game. Why would you feel any different?
“It’s just an exciting opportunity. That feeling at the start of a season when everything is up for grabs. It’s a special feeling and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. But right now, I am lucky enough to be in the heart of it and I want to ride it for what it is.
“When we beat Inverness on the last day, we all got together and were happy and then went our separate ways. Then we rocked up on Monday ready to go again.
“We are all very familiar with each other which helps. Very positive, great energy.”