AN EMOTIONAL Joe Hart has given his reasons for calling time on an illustrious career at club and country level for two decades.

The 36-year-old keeper, a bargain £1million purchase from Spurs in August 2021, decided the time was right to make the decision to bring a halt to the guessing game about his future.

Hart has ended speculation about whether he would sign an extension and now he has gone public it will allow the champions free to concentrate completely on the crucial run-in to the season.

The 75 times-capped England international said: “This is something I’ve thought about for a while. There is not right or wrong time, is there?

“The way this club works at the moment, there’s so much on it, there’s so much heart and soul poured into what we are doing as a football club.

WE’LL SUPPORT YOU EVERMORE…Joe Hart with the Celtic fans giving the keeper their backing.

“With the grand scheme of the club and the support base, and the conversations that go on around the goalkeeper position for next season, I just think, with the blessings of the club and the conversations with the club, with Brendan and Stevie Woods, it was important to get the message out.

“It takes one thing off the table that can be speculated over. I’m definitely not going to be there next season, I won’t be available to play football. I want to take that off the table and we can talk about why, and then push forward.”

Hart, speaking to Celtic TV, said: “To the people who know me – who really know me – they know that’s not even a possibility. I was cautious of that, so I appreciate the open mindedness of the club and the fans when they see this and understand it.

“This is not someone who is checking out. This is someone who is just letting them know because they think it’s important.

“I can’t wait to have those conversations. I can’t wait to get into the ifs, buts and maybes, the whys and hows, the ups and downs and how I can pass on my experience for people to hopefully learn from or improve on, and maybe offer me some hindsight.

“The key message is those conversations are for after. This is the last time I’ll be talking about this.

FLARE WE GO…Joe Hart shows his colours as he removes a green flare from the pitch.
“All I want to do is focus on the job in hand and representing this amazing club I play for and leaving my heart and soul out on the field.”
Hart added: “Mentally, I’m in that one place I like to be. I am in a place of clarity. Obviously, I’ve thought about this a lot. There are loads of key factors that have come into it.

“Maybe at some point, do I need to look for something elsewhere, or do I really try to push to stay on longer doing what I am doing? But, no, the right time is now. I’ve got the clarity of mind to go to the club and explain my position and they totally understand.

“The hardest thing for me was, once I’d made my decision, to explain although I intend on finishing in June, I’m so up for it. I’m still so involved and so committed.

“Physically, I feel great. I feel as good as I possibly can do for my age and what I’ve done physically to my body.

“I’ve been on the bench in professional football since I was 15 and every day since I was 16 onwards. I’ve had peaks in terms of energy. At 17, 18, 19, you can’t get enough.

FIST OF TRIUMPH…Joe Hart displays his pleasure after another Celtic success.

“At 20-year-old you start to become a player at the highest level. The games and the world changing around me at 20-30 and physically a real peak time in my life.

“From 30 onwards, football has not been necessarily as clean for me from 31-34. Mentally, where was I at? I don’t know. I didn’t feel like I had a place any more.

“Physically, I feel in a very good place at the moment. I’ve gone down every avenue I can to keep myself in the best possible shape and position to give my all come game day. Right now I am at that. I feel that come game day I really do peak.

“But I am aware time waits for no man – and I don’t want my body retiring me. That was one of the key factors, thinking I could really smash through the finishing line here.”

Hart will start the countdown to the completion of a colourful and decorated career when the champions play Motherwell in the midday kick-off at Fir Park on Sunday.

The last game of the season is scheduled for the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on May 25, the iconic date when Jock Stein’s Celtic won the European Cup in Lisbon with their unforgettable 2-1 victory over Inter Milan.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author