Hart's tale from rookie to England star
- 16 February 2011 17:15
- Posted by Alex Rowen
Joe Hart has come a long way in a short space of time. From Shrewsbury Town’s reserve goalkeeper to England’s established No.1, Hart’s rise to the top has been nothing short of superb.
Even at the age of 15, Hart had already begun to make an impression at Shrewsbury. He suffered relegation from the Football League with his boyhood club in 2003 but made his senior debut in a Conference game against Gravesend & Northfleet a year later.
Having finally established himself as Town’s first choice during the 2005/06 campaign, the young stopper’s success was immediate. He appeared for England’s Under-19s in October 2005 and was named League Two goalkeeper of the year at the end of the same season.
Hart’s performances soon caught the eye of a host of Premier League clubs before City eventually won the chase for his signature in May 2006. And with Andreas Isaksson and Nicky Weaver injured, Hart made his first appearance for the club sooner than expected against Sheffield United in October 2006.
In a bid to gain some much needed first-team experience, Hart spent the early part of 2007 out on loan. Spells at Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool proved crucial to the youngster’s development, and he was named as part of England’s Under-21 squad for the 2007 European Championships.
Sven Goran Eriksson gave Hart his chance as City’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2007/08, and he impressed enough to win his first international cap at the end of the season in a friendly with Trinidad and Tobago.
Hart fell victim to City’s new-found wealth as Shay Given arrived to take No.1 spot. Despite this, his excellent performances in the 2009 Under-21 European Championships helped England reach the final – only for him to be suspended and England beaten.
With Given hanging on to the City jersey, Hart was loaned out to Birmingham in what proved to be a massively successful season for him. Not only did he play a vital role in Birmingham’s bid for survival and win the supporters’ Player of the Season award, he was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award and named Premier League Goalkeeper of the Season.
Emphasising just how far the player had come in his short career, England manager Fabio Capello also rewarded the young stopper with a place in his squad for the 2010 World Cup.
Upon returning to City, Hart’s form for Birmingham had left Roberto Mancini with a selection dilemma. Despite Given’s own impressive club form, Mancini instead chose to make Hart City’s new No.1.
The future certainly looks bright for the young stopper. His goalkeeping heroics have been crucial to City’s fantastic defensive record this season and if his progress continues, he is set to represent club and country at the top level for a long time to come.