Joe Hart has had his fair share of criticism since he was thrust into the spotlight aged 19, after signing for Manchester City – but now he is fighting back, writes Charlotte Duncker.
When Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in 2016 there was one thing that was made clear to Joe Hart: he was surplus to requirement.
It’s not the first time the England international has found himself fall down the pecking order at City and not the first time he sensed his City career might be over.
When Mark Hughes arrived at the club in 2009 and Shay Given became number one goalkeeper Hart admitted: “I thought that was it at Manchester City.”
Last year, when told face-to-face by Guardiola he wasn’t wanted, he was determined to fight.
Speaking to The Offside Rule Exclusives he said: “I was 22 when Hughes did it, it made me a lot angrier than it did this time. I didn’t know how to deal with it or how to cope with it.
“So when this happened I was all up for a fight. A fair fight is good for me and if I lose I will shake hands with my opposition, but I realised this wasn’t going to be an opportunity for a fair fight so I looked elsewhere.”
Being Pep’s Fall Guy
With Guardiola keen to make a statement at the start of his City reign, Hart became the fall guy: “We all want a fair chance at everything but that’s not how it works.
“There was no point in getting upset or irate because there was only going to be one winner.
“There was a guy that Manchester City had put in charge with a lot of power because they had fought like hell to get him as their manager.
“He had a decision to make and he made it with me.”
There were just days left in the transfer window for Hart to find a new club. When a move to Serie A side Torino came up – Hart took it upon himself to call the coach and explain his desire and determination.
“A lot gets talked about and I’m not the sort of guy to combat it because I don’t really care. But I want the people I work with to know who I am and what I am as a team player.”
The move went ahead, but Hart has admitted he could easily have spent the rest of his career at City: “It would be a lie to say I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career at City but it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”
Becoming a Hammer
After a season in Italy, Hart headed back to the Premier League with the same ambitions as before: to win.
He said: “I was very grateful when West Ham gave me the opportunity so it’s another case of getting my head down and working hard and fighting for the cause.”
Hart’s deal is only a season long loan at the moment, but with a World Cup looming he’s not thinking of his long term future and where he might be next season.
“I think there’s unfinished business for all of us apart from the guys from 1966,” he explains.
“That’s the dream as an England player. I never even dreamed that I would play for England, I didn’t need to dream about it because it’s something I didn’t think was possible.
“The next stage is to do something with your England career and make it matter.
“I have failed up until now so I need to change that.”
Follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharDuncker
With thanks to Sharon Latham for pictures: Instagram @mcfcshaz
Launched in 2017, The Offside Rule Exclusives is our Webby-nominated monthly podcast hosted by Lynsey Hooper, Kait Borsay, and Hayley McQueen. It features in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in football like Phil Neville, Jermaine Defoe, and Casey Stoney.