Joe Hart: The Ups and Downs of England’s Number One

Joe Hart – England’s undisputed number one. The man from Shrewsbury almost had a career as cricketer, so where did it all go right for the England man? Like most youngsters at a top club he was loaned out, before sitting veteran Shay Given on the bench at City. He now holds two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup to his name. So is he England’s best ever?

England’s best ever is arguably a bit of a way off. Although our most prestigious keeper has done his reputation a big boost over the last few rounds of Champions League action, with some outstanding saves against Real Madrid. He is still behind Peter Shilton and David Seaman in terms of caps and reputation for England. At club level he has won more honours at 29 then Peter Shilton ever did, but is still three behind David Seaman.

There is no doubting Hart’s tremendous ability and at the age of 21 he was given his England debut against Trinidad and Tobago. Sven Goran Eriksson said that Hart would be one of the biggest talents in this country as a goalkeeper.


The Ups

In 2010 following his return on loan from Birmingham, Hart managed to dispatch Shay Given as the first choice at Manchester City. He put in an outstanding display against Tottenham earning City a point on the opening day of the season.

It was the same season in which Hart earned his first major piece of silverware, helping his side beat Stoke City at Wembley 1-0 keeping a clean sheet in the process. His performances across the course of the 2010/11 campaign also saw him earn the Golden Glove award for the most shut outs.

2011/12 sees Manchester City win their first ever Premier League title. The Sky Blues claim a last minute win over QPR to pick up the Premier League crown. Hart wins his second consecutive Golden Glove.

After a brilliant season, Hart is fully established as the England number one. His Euro chances are cut short unfortunately, as England lose once against on penalties. Hart falling victim to the famous ‘Paneka’ penalty, scored by Andrea Pirlo.


The Downs

The 2012/13 season is a disaster for Manchester City. The team suffers from massive defensive fatalities and Hart makes a number of high profile errors for both club and country. He lacks strength to deal with an Andy Carroll header and lets in a weak shot at Wembley against Scotland.

The Englishman lacks his usual composure behind the back four, as City loose the Premier League crown. To make things worse, Hart lets in Ben Watson header as City fail to win the FA Cup against Wigan.

Maneul Pellegrini is appointed in charge of Manchester City for the 2013/14 season. But the focus is very much on attack as City outscore their opponents and win the League and cup double in the Chilean’s first season in charge.

Pellegrini’s second season in charge is a disappointment, with City now being considered an ageing squad. Hart puts in some good performances, but has an unreliable back four in front of him. City end the season trophy less. Hart does, however, pick up his fourth Golden Glove award.

City start the season promisingly with Hart keeping three clean sheets in his first three matches. But similar problems arise, with a back four lacking the quality of Vincent Kompany. City do win the League Cup and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, with Hart keeping City within touching distance of the final.


Long way to go

There is no doubting that Hart is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has a tremendous presence in the sticks, a characteristic essential for a goalkeeper. If City are to have a chance of maintaining their top four place, Hart must be on top form.

He still has a long way to go before he can match the England greats of Seaman, Shilton and of course the World Cup-winning Gordon Banks.


Written by Edward Ware

Follow Edward on Twitter @wade_edward

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