100 game salute for Hart of the City
- Wed 16 Feb 2011, 3:11PM
- Posted by Alex Rowen
Joe Hart made his 100th appearance for City in the derby at Old Trafford and he’ll be aiming to build on the form that has seen him progress from young rookie to England’s No.1 during his opening century.
Joe Hart's early promise brought a City debut in October 2006 when injury ruled Andreas Isaksson and Nicky Weaver out of the Premier League clash with Sheffield United. His clean sheet that day amply demonstrated his potential.
Even so, Hart had to wait a year before his next appearance. With Sven Goran Eriksson undecided on who would be his first-team stopper, Hart was given his opportunity in a couple of early-season Carling Cup fixtures.
In a second-round win over Bristol City, Hart’s ability and concentration were both tested. Having had little to do in the earlier stages, he produced a world-class save when required to preserve City's lead.
Another clean sheet followed in the third-round win over Norwich and he held his place for the Premier League match with Newcastle, remaining the club’s first-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season.
In August 2008, Hart shone as he kept alive City's UEFA Cup bid with some excellent saves to deny Danish side Midtjylland. After a final save in the dying minutes of extra-time, Hart emerged the hero in the penalty shoot-out. Two brilliant stops squeezed City into the next round.
But the arrival of the experienced Shay Given in January 2009 posed a fresh problem for Hart. The highly-regarded Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was inevitably Mark Hughes' first choice for the rest of the season.
His decision to leave the club temporarily and join promoted Birmingham on loan proved pivotal to his career
Hart played an inspired role in St Andrews' successful season and was chosen for the PFA team of the year.
He returned with Given recovering from injury, and replaced the Irishman as Roberto Mancini's first choice for the 2010/11 campaign. That faith was instantly rewarded with Hart’s man-of-the-match display in the opening game at Spurs.
That performance set the tone for the rest of Hart’s season and most recently, England’s No.1 was at his very best in January’s goalless draw at Arsenal. A brilliant defensive display owed much to Hart's excellent goalkeeping.