Celtic keeper Joe Hart opens up on the respect agenda but 'needs to be careful with my words' when speaking about love

Celtic and Joe Hart appear to have the makings of a perfect match.

Joe Hart is already a favourite with the Celtic support, and the affinity could be witnessed in the keeper giving his top to a fan following Celtic's win over Ferencvaros on Tuesday. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The 34-year-old has put behind him abusive relationships to find a union at Celtic Park that he can wrap in his full embrace … and feel the same affection in return. The England international doesn’t shy away from such warmth being denied him in the years before his Celtic summer move. The player never lost his passion for the game, he maintains, after being discarded and publicly demeaned through not being the apple of Pep Guardiola’s eye at Manchester City. But feeling the appreciation from manager Ange Postecoglou and the Celtic support has given him back a zest previously diminished, recent spells at Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur not turning out as he wanted.

"I need to be careful with my words,” said the Celtic keeper. “I didn't necessarily fall out of love with the game. Never have I ever not loved football, and I doubt I will. But the industry, the business side of it … I didn't love. That's not me being a victim. I get it. I get that football is cut-throat and there are lots of people who have a lot of opinions. I fell on the wrong side of a lot of them.

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“I'll be honest when I came here, at that point football wasn't doing everything that it had for me. I don't know where my thoughts were with it, because I am very committed to what I do. I like to be fully on board with my employees and the people that I work for. I told Ange when I spoke to him that I didn't quite know how to feel about football. He understood and he was very simple in what he said. ‘If you come here you will be treated with a lot of respect and will get a lot of responsibility. Regardless of anything, I believe in you as a goalkeeper',’ Ange said.

"No matter who you are, you need to hear that. You need to know someone has confidence with you. I felt that with him, and he has kinda left me to it, to be the person and player that I am. I have been around a long time, I have seen a lot. I have been allowed to bring that to the team, as well as what I can do the field.”

What the English title-winning, 75-times capped Celtic keeper can do is produce sparkling saves … and the odd mad-cap moment. Into the former category comes two fine stops to help Celtic secure the 2-0 Europa League triumph over Ferencvaros in midweek. The Cruyff turn he was forced to conjure up as he was closed down in looking to find a pass in Celtic’s Motherwell success last weekend belongs in the latter.

“I’ve had a few of those moments throughout my career and none of them are planned,” said the Celtic keeper. “I was trying to hold onto the ball for as long as I could to create space, took my eye off the ball, and next minute I was passing it to Boli [Bolingoli]. I kind of blanked out a little bit! Ideally I don’t want to be doing that again, but if you have to, I suppose you have to.”

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