JOE HART’S hopes of lifting the English Cup twice in three years were wrecked in one of the all-time shock results in the competition.

And Celtic team-mate James McCarthy contributed heavily to the Wembley woe of the 34-year-old 75 times-capped England goalkeeper when shocktroops Wigan stunned the megastars of Manchester City on May 11 2013.

Hart, who had sampled Cup glory in his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City in 2011, had sat out the route to the big game, but manager Roberto Mancini opted for his experience over Costel Pantillimon and axed the Romanian to welcome back the club’s No.1

WEMBLEY WOE…Joe Hart looks back as Ben Watson’s header flashes into the Manchester City net for Wigan’s last-gasp English Cup winner.

It was goalless with one minute to play when the only goal of a remarkable encounter arrived to send City spinning to a sensational downfall that cost the Italian manager his job two days later.

Ironically, the goal was set up by an expertly-taken corner-kick from ex-Celt Shaun Maloney, on the brink of taking over as boss of the Hoops’ Premier Sports League Cup Final rivals at Hampden this afternoon.

His swirling kick to the near post was met perfectly by Ben Watson and his header left Hart helpless as it soared into the net and it was too late for the 10-man Etihad giants, who had Pablo Zabaleta red-carded near the end, to come back to rescue a campaign that saw them finish without a trophy.

One of the stars of the show at the England national stadium was McCarthy as he combined with fellow-Scot and ex-Hamilton Accies team-mate James McArthur to control the crucial midfield and guide the minnows to their first major honour in their 81-year history.

HOOP HOOP HOORAY…James McCarthy holds aloft the Celtic shirt of his boyhood heroes after completing his four-year deal on August 3.

Manuel Pellegrini, who faced Ange Postecoglou twice when the Hoops played Real Betis twice, winning and losing, in the Europa League Group G this season, was named as Mancini’s successor within 48 hours.

Unfortunately, the elation of McCarthy and Co swiftly turned to despondency as they were relegated from the Premier League the following week, with Martinez subsequently leaving to join Everton.

Coincidentally, Hart and McCarthy joined the Postecoglou rebuild at Parkhead on the same day, August 3, when the netminder agreed a £1million three-year switch from Spurs and the 31-year-old Republic of Ireland international anchorman arrived at the end of his Crystal Palace contract on a four-year deal.

Now they could be given the opportunity to combine at Hampden to share Cup Final joy.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Celtic v Hibs this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.  


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