Joe Hart asks Leigh Griffiths about his free-kick technique
England goalkeeper Joe Hart has hit back at criticism of his part in Leigh Griffiths' free-kick double for Scotland at Hampden, insisting that even the presence of 'five Peter Crouches' in his defensive wall couldn't have kept them out.
Hart chose 6ft 7ins former England striker Crouch as the imaginative analogy for his analysis of the technical difficulties Griffiths’ expertise from around 25 yards posed on Saturday evening.
“As a goalkeeper, you set up your wall and sometimes there’s just nothing you can do,” said the Manchester City man, whose club future remains uncertain after a loan spell in Italy with Torino.
“He [Griffiths] has produced two bits of quality. They weren’t curlers and, if you’ll excuse my technical goalkeeper chat, they were ‘heavy’. He put them over the wall and the ball then picked up pace.
“It might have helped for the first one if the wall had jumped, but it’s a case of ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’. I ask my wall to jump, but not excessively because players are clever now and can hit the ball underneath the wall.
“I’ve watched them again and we would have needed four or five Crouchys in that wall to make a difference and that’s not what we had.
“I’m prepared for anything and, at the end of the day, it’s a free shot from 25 yards. We train every day, but unfortunately for us it was Leigh Griffiths’ training that paid off at Hampden.
“To do it twice in however many minutes it was, after not really having a sniff the whole game, it was a big moment for him.”
Hart made a point of seeking out Griffiths at the final whistle, both to congratulate the Celtic striker and to quiz him on his technique.
“That’s me, that’s who I am,” added Hart. “I want to win and I’ll do anything for the England cause, but when the game is done, sometimes you have to say ‘well done’ to someone.
“That’s my personality, hate it or love it, and I wanted to congratulate him. I also wanted to talk about it because I’m interested in his thought process in those situations.
“I also spoke to him about the previous match that we played at Wembley in November. He took a free-kick in the final minute of that game and used a different technique.
“Of course we studied his free-kicks beforehand, but, as I say, you have to say ‘well done’ sometimes and that was certainly the case this time.
“I’ve rewatched the free-kicks already. I sat down straight away in the dressing room afterwards to see them because I was interested to see what had gone on. I’ll probably have another look with the goalie coach, then put it to bed and start looking at Dimitri Payet and what he’s doing with his free-kicks for France before we play them on Tuesday night.”