Friday, 3 September 2010

My Love for Joe Hart

In a contrast from the theme of my previous posts, I’d like to express my love for Joe Hart.

This time last year, I told all those around me how he would be the best signing Birmingham City would make. I was proved resoundingly correct,  made all the more satisfying that many people didn’t even know who he was. I knew. Having watched him at the England Under 21 European Championships, I could see the confidence he held swaggering around the box. He scored a penalty and stood there, arms aloft, like he was The Man. It was remarkably refreshing to see that during an England shoot out.

We now see him as England’s undoubted number 1. But he’s only just – tonight – completed his first competitive international. Barely fifteen minutes into this match he was having a laugh with Glen Johnson after the defender was bailed out of a potentially embarrassing own goal. He made confident saves throughout, turning a clearance to an immediate England goal. He did, of course, produce yet another efficient clean sheet.

I am possibly one of Shay Given’s biggest fans. But Roberto Mancini’s decision to name Hart as number 1 over Given is one of the few correct selection choices the Italian has made. Hart is The Man. He will win over one hundred caps for England. He is the best goalkeeper in England, by a long way, by so many criteria. Hart will still be number 1 when my children begin to watch England games. Above all that, he’s an entertaining chap who doesn’t take himself too seriously. He does not seem to feel pressure, and I cannot say that with so much confidence about any England player I remember. He does not look like a weirdo like David Seaman or David James. He’s actually a bit of a pretty boy, with beach blond spiky hair and a cheeky grin. These may seem arbitrary factors, but how we – and the team – perceive a player is staggeringly important. We want someone who thrives in the limelight and wants the camera upon him, and Joe Hart is certainly that person.

I’m dryly pessimistic at every opportunity, especially with regards to football, and overwhelmingly with regards to the England national team. But we must cherish Hart. If we don’t, he won’t care, such is his confidence.

Why does he have to play for Manchester City?

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