Joe Hart reveals he could have signed for Celtic 12 months before he did during disastrous ten-in-a-row season
The former Manchester City, Tottenham and England No.1 was brought to Parkhead by Ange Postecoglou as part of his major squad overhaul last summer
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Joe Hart has revealed he could have signed for Celtic 12 months before he did last summer had it not been for one key factor preventing the deal from going through.
The former England No.1 joined Ange Postecoglou’s Parkhead revolution during a major squad rebuild shortly after his appointment.
The two-time English Premier League winners has excelled in his first season between the sticks, becoming a lead performer for the title-chasing Hoops.
The 34-year-old arrived in Glasgow at a time when Celtic desperately required an experienced shot-stopper as Vasilis Barkas, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard all failed to keep hold of the gloves.
Hart has since clinched his first winners’ medal after their Premier Sports Cup final victory over Hibs at Hampden back in December.
Celtic head into a huge Old Firm showdown against their rivals Rangers this weekend with a three point lead at the top of the Premiership table.
And Hart has broken his silence about holding talks with Hoops officials last season as he explained what prevented him from arriving at Parkhead during their failed ten-in-a-row season.
He told the In The Stiffs podcast: “I had actually spoken to Celtic the year before.
“It was something they decided (at the top) there was no resell in me so they didn’t want to take me on to have no resell in me doing well.
“If I did well great, but they didn’t gain anything from it. It never got started but it was something I was open to and then Tottenham.
“I got put in contact with Ange (Postecoglou) here to have a conversation. They were quite sheepish in approaching it. They had actually spoken to Tottenham but I wasn’t having conversations with the hierarchy.
“I made it very clear I was very unimpressed with how they were behaving so they would get me from a professional point of view but they would certainly not get a friendly conversation from me or anything other than a respectful good morning. It was a bit of an awkward conversation.
“I knew Celtic had called anyway I was like ‘I know they have called.’ and they said ‘Well we would be ok with you talking to them’. I was like ‘alright, cool cheers.’
“I said, ‘look I am going to have a conversation but I am going to be completely honest about football and how I see life and how I see things, I would love to talk to him’.
“I thought it was amazing that a club like Celtic wanted to have a conversation with me. I didn’t know who he was. Not many people did.
“I got on the phone and he was like ‘Hi Joe how are you?’. I just went ‘Look this probably seems a bit full on what I am about to say but I need to say it for you to get a clear understanding of where I am at and who I am.
“You need to be really clear if you want to pursue this with me saying what I am going to say. If you don’t I won’t take offence but this is what I feel I require to bring something to the table for you.’
“I explained the situation. I said look I am the kind of guy who gives everything that I have got and I feel like that has not gotten me anywhere so far but I am not willing to give up on my principles.
“I am the kind of guy who needs love, I like to feel appreciation for what I am doing, I like to be a huge part of the dressing room, I like to help, I like to work with managers and I don’t like to work against people and I like to be backed.
“If that is not something you feel you can give to me then it is absolutely not an issue. Trust me, I have had worse things said to me.
“He said: ‘Look I have not even asked anyone about you as a goalkeeper. I know what you are like as a goalkeeper. You can go in goal. I have done a bit of research on you as a person, had some good references and now I have had this conversation with you I am going to pursue it.’
“I said: ‘Right ok, well keep me updated.’
“A few things happened, they got knocked out of (Champions League) qualification. It wasn’t going quite right and Celtic were actually in a bit of dismay at the start of the season.
“Then however things accelerated. There was never a conversation to be had. Money. No conversations to be had. I was either coming to do something properly – whatever that may be – or I wasn’t.
“It turned out that it was and I have. This is what I have done and I have loved being here.
“Everyone who knows me said you can’t go in chucking in two goals every week, people will turn on you but when they see how you are and what you are and how you represent things they will buy into it.
“People have and that is why, whether I do well or not people get who and what I am. That is more important to me than anything. I am really happy. Celtic is massive.”
Looking ahead to his first Old Firm derby played in front of supporters, Hart reckons he is in for a treat if Celtic’s 3-0 victory over their rivals, played in front of just their home fans at Parkhead was anything to go by.
Discussing his derby experiences so far, he admitted: “We have not had an away crowd in, yet.
“At Ibrox it was just them and at Celtic Park recently it was just us. The one at Celtic Park was one of the best things I have ever been involved in.
“It was a night game. No Old Firms are night games. They are 12pm Sunday. Minimal carnage. But because of Covid and the winter break being moved forward they had to fit it in on a Wednesday night.
“It just happened to work that were two points behind them going into the game. It is tight at the moment. They are strong, but we are strong.”