JOE HART signed a three-year contract with Celtic on August 3 and made a quickfire debut in the 4-2 Europa League qualifying win over FK Jablonec in the Czech Republic 48 hours later.
The 34-year-old former England international keeper has been the man in charge ever since, playing in 19 successive games.
After conceding two goals in his first appearance, Hart, who cost £1million from Spurs, said: “I promise the rust will wear off soon”.
BAWL BHOY…Joe Hart shouts advice to his Celtic team-mates.
The ex-Manchester City netminder, who won 75 caps for his country, pleaded with boss Ange Postecoglou to play in the first leg of the crucial Euro tie during a period which he called “crazy”, as reported in CQN.
Hart has most certainly kept his word.
On the domestic front, he has conceded seven goals in 12 outings and Martin Boyle’s header in the 3-1 midweek victory over Hibs at Easter Road was the first time he had been beaten in four matches following shuts-outs in the wins over Motherwell (2-0), Ferencvaros (2-0) and St Johnstone (2-0).
However, Hart’s worth to the team was emphasised again in Edinburgh when he made a smart save from Joe Newell with the Hoops winning 1-0 at the time.
SAVE No.1…Joe Hart instinctively thrusts out his right foot to deny Hibs’ Joe Newell.
SAVE No.2…Joe Hart spreads himself to block a shot from Jamie Murphy as Carl Starfelt and Nir Bitton look on.
At 3-1 and with the home side putting the visiting rearguard under pressure, the veteran again demonstrated his quality when he blocked a close-range drive from Jamie Murphy.
Those were two outstanding stops at vital stages of the encounter and the shotstopper’s qualities and influence drew praise from impressed Callum McGregor.
The Scotland international midfielder, speaking to The Scotsman, said: “He’s been first class. Massive moments in the game, he makes two brilliant saves. Every single player congratulated him.
“He just said: ‘That’s my job, I’ve got to keep the ball out of the net’. It tells you how humble he is, as well, which is brilliant.
CHEERS…Joe Hart, Anthony Ralston and Carl Starfelt applaud the Celtic fans at Easter Road after the 3-1 triumph.
“In those moments you need big saves – and he’s been first class at that.
“And with the standards he sets every day for the younger lads to follow, as well. The importance of that can’t be overlooked.”
Hart will be guarding the net again when Celtic take on Livingston at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon where a victory will take them to pole position in the Premiership for the first time since Postecoglou accepted the responsibility of taking over the reins.
The jigsaw is coming together – and the goalkeeper has proved to be a huge part of the Greek-Australian’s rebuild.