Celtic's Joe Hart recalls scene of only red card crime and 'naughty' TV clip - 'there was no need for that'

Celtic team-mates dug goalkeeper out of a hole on his last visit to Tony Macaroni Arena

Should Joe Hart come through Celtic’s remaining nine or 10 matches of the season without any further indiscretions, it will throw up an interesting future pub quiz question.

Name the ground where the former Manchester City and England goalkeeper received the only red card of his 21-year professional playing career. The answer is the Tony Macaroni Arena, a name that, like Hart, is set to disappear from Scottish football come the summer.

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Hart returns to the scene of the crime this weekend, a final encounter on Livingston’s plastic pitch before he slips into retirement. It can’t go any worse than that previous date back in September where he rashly wiped out Mo Sangare midway through the first half and looked up to see John Beaton brandishing a red card over his head. His team-mates – especially Daizen Maeda who scored Celtic’s third late on to top off a heroic shift – got Hart out of a hole that day and the veteran reckons it will take a similar team effort to secure all three points again tomorrow.

Joe Hart is shown a red card by referee John Beaton during Livingston v Celtic in September last year.Joe Hart is shown a red card by referee John Beaton during Livingston v Celtic in September last year.
Joe Hart is shown a red card by referee John Beaton during Livingston v Celtic in September last year.

“It was really strange,” he recalled after being shown the red card. “I just went and got a drink and sat in the TV room and watched it unfold. It wasn’t something I enjoyed but what can you do? Rules are rules. I I’ve a smile on my face because we won, but, dunno, was it 20 minutes in? We were 1-0 up, looking very comfortable and playing a good game.

“I slightly misread a through ball on a pitch we don’t train on as much as maybe would help in that situation. And I got the tackle wrong. That’s the responsibilities of a goalkeeper. I saw the red. Which was weird. I didn’t really know what to do or play it out, but the boys were incredible. Scott [Bain] came on and I thought he was brilliant that day. We really controlled the game and it was an excellent performance with 10 men.”

Maeda played with the energy of two men that day, something Hart feels has been a theme throughout a season heading for the tightest title finish in years. “I wasn’t thanking him afterwards, I was congratulating him,” he said of his Japanese teammate. “He was absolutely superb that day. We work as a team. We couldn’t quite do the same for him when he got sent off against Atletico! But we’re all there to win. We work that hard and train that consistently here that ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s 11 men, 10 men or whoever is on the pitch. We’re looking to execute and I thought we were excellent.”

The only thing that irritated Hart more than a first career sending off was the fact the TV cameras caught him exuberantly celebrating Maeda’s strike, a clip that quickly went viral. “That was naughty,” he frowned. “There was no need for that clip. I was just watching the game and reacting how I would like to react. I know we’re in public and people are free to do what they want. I think that was footage from the live cameras they were setting up for the interviews after. So that was a shame. But that was Daizen scoring an absolute banger to make it three. I’d have liked to have celebrated with him obviously but that’s what it was.”

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