Joe Hart says farewell in spectacular fashion: reasons for retirement, Celtic love and big Rangers moment

The goalkeeper does not have second thoughts about hanging up gloves

This was quite the way for Joe Hart to bring the curtain down on a stellar career.

The 37-year-old is now retired, his final act being to help Celtic overcome Rangers to win the Scottish Cup. Hart has 75 England caps to his name, 549 senior appearances and a trophy haul the envy of many a goalkeeper. Seven of them have come during his three-season stint at Celtic. He hangs up his gloves with his head held high.

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“I’m all drained out,” admitted Hart. “I’m just happy that we won. I know it’s the end of my career but my focus was on this game and it’s so important to the club to keep winning. To double up the title with the Scottish Cup is a special feeling.”

Joe Hart lifts the Scottish Cup after the 1-0 win over Rangers.Joe Hart lifts the Scottish Cup after the 1-0 win over Rangers.
Joe Hart lifts the Scottish Cup after the 1-0 win over Rangers.

Amid all the emotion, Hart was asked if he has second thoughts. “I haven’t,” he replied. “It’s not an emotional decision, I made it earlier in the season because it just felt the right time. Physically it wasn’t a question but it felt the right time as a family …

“I’m comfy with it and it’s someone else’s turn. There’s nobody else I’d want to play for on the planet other than this club. When I realised it wasn’t going to be the case in terms of going back home and get on with life, from that point of view it was the right decision.”

There was a heart-stopping moment for Hart, however. Farewells are never straightforward. On 59 minutes, with the score locked at 0-0, James Tavernier flung in a corner, Hart went to punch the ball but missed it, and Abdallah Sima tapped home to seemingly put Rangers ahead. The goalkeeper had felt a push in his back when going for the ball, he just wasn’t totally sure who it had done it.

“Your heart is always in your mouth because I didn’t know who pushed me,” he said. “I felt set for the cross and as soon as I got ready to deal with it someone pushed me. I didn’t think someone in my team would do that. I was confident someone pushed me, it was just whether it was a Celtic or Rangers player.”

Hart claims for a foul after Rangers' goal - which was given by VAR.Hart claims for a foul after Rangers' goal - which was given by VAR.
Hart claims for a foul after Rangers' goal - which was given by VAR.

It was Nicolas Raskin, Rangers’ midfielder, and the heart-in-mouth moment was remedied by VAR. The rest is history, with Adam Idah netting on 89 minutes to settle a scrappy final.

Not that the aesthetics bother Hart. He signs off having had the time of his life at Celtic Park. “I came here to win, this club wants to win and so do I,” he said. “I will have to remove myself from that crazy way of thinking and living. Ultimately I just feel love and respect and a lot of passion towards this place.

“It’s ingrained in the walls and the people who come to support us. That fanbase is superb. It doesn’t just turn up and cheer and sing. It expects when you play with passion and with desire to work for the badge they get behind you. When we’re together as one it’s hard to stop.

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“This place has made me feel so special. The manager, players know it’s coming to an end for me but those boys have made me feel so special. They have made an old boy happy and I’ll be forever grateful. Of course I will miss Celtic. It goes without saying. But I will have to wait for that crash and comedown.

“I’m an emotional guy. I play with my heart on my sleeve. I’m probably more emotional when I’m happy, not so much when I’m sad. I shed a tear at the final whistle, pure joy, sheer happiness and very proud.”



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