How Joe Hart found himself again at Celtic?

It was announced earlier today that Joe Hart will be calling an end to his playing career at the end of the season, with the Englishman aiming to go out on a high with two trophies still up for grabs.

An incredibly decorated career that saw the stopper heralded as one of the top goalkeepers on the planet at one point, he will play his final game of his career in a Celtic shirt at the end of May.

Speculation was rife surrounding his future, with his contract up in June and talks of a new deal being handed to the 36-year-old remaining silent.

Hart has had his fair share of critics in his time at Celtic, with supporters consistently demanding a new signing for the goalkeeping position, but after winning 5 trophies so far at the club and with some top performances coming in amongst his 97 games for the club, Joe Hart’s time at Celtic can only be reflected on in a positive light.

Finding himself again
Joe Hart had had a tough time at it in the years preceding his move to Celtic. Shunned to the sidelines by Pep Guardiola upon the legendary coaches arrival, a torrid spell on loan at Torino followed that led to Hart being treated as damaged goods.

Spending time at West Ham United, Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur over the course of a four-year period and only playing a combined 38 games, it would have been easy for many to assume that Hart was done as a top-level goalkeeper.

Celtic had had similar struggles with regards to their goalkeeping position, with Vasilis Barkas proving to be a £5million flop and Scott Bain not offering the quality that Celtic needed in a starting goalkeeper.

Ange Postecoglou stated that he looks to sign players with a point to prove, and Hart had the goal to silence the doubters and the naysayers, to prove that he could still hang at a high-level.

The signing was received with doubts and worries from some, with the goalkeeping nightmare from the previous season still lingering on supporters’ minds.

Conceding two goals to Czech side Jablonec on his debut may have had alarm bells ringing, but one iconic moment in the return leg showed that the Celtic support were going to be right behind Joe Hart. Hart made a flying save against Jablonec but one that would be relatively routine for any other keeper, but the sheer relief of having a keeper who could actually make a save led to rapturous cheers from the Celtic support much akin to the noise for a goal.

A feeling of unity had been restored to Celtic, the support and the team once again were connected, and the team took the fans on a ride over the course of that 2021/22 season that brought unity back to Parkhead.

The starting goalkeeper for last season’s treble and an experienced head laying off advice and words of wisdom to younger players, Hart had found a place that he could call home once again, and had a feeling of being wanted that he so desperately needed after being treated as a broken toy for a number of years.

James McKenzie // @JamesWHMcKenzie

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