Joe Hart is gone but has left behind a treasure trove of memories for Manchester City fans. England’s number one spent a decade at Manchester City, joining as a teenager from Shrewsbury Town before ousting the renowned Shay Given to become City’s first-choice goalkeeper. He was in goal as City enjoyed a new golden era, winning the Premier League twice and several other domestic trophies.
All good things must come to an end, though, and Pep Guardiola decided he needed a different type of goalkeeper for his Etihad revolution. However, we, the supporters, will never forget Joe. Eight City Watch contributors have shared their favourite Joe Hart moments as we look back at his memorable City career.
As Sergio Agüero, Mario Balotelli and the gang tumbled to the ground consumed by complete and utter ecstasy, Joe Hart’s first instinct was to turn and run frenziedly to the supporters around him. His arms open wide, his eyes open wider, only the advertising boards and the stewards separated Hart from jumping into the stands and celebrating Agüero’s 93rd minute winner against QPR with the fans. If Hart wasn’t stood between the sticks that day he would’ve occupied one of the 45,000 Etihad seats, grinding his teeth and biting his nails like the rest of us. For me, Hart’s passion that day was more satisfying than any one-fingered push over the bar.
Looking back, I think my fondest memory of any Joe Hart moment will be that Champions League away leg at Barcelona in 2015. Never in my life have I ever seen a more ridiculous goalkeeping performance, it was supposed to be a complete whitewashing. Barcelona could’ve easily scored ten goals that night and that is no exaggeration. Joe Hart was that good that day.
There’s many to choose from, such as doing the Samba, his constant recognition of City fans (which even extended to telling City players to head over to the away following), when he ran the whole pitch to make a save (although I still think Wright-Phillips had the height to stop it), but for me and probably many others – it has to be *that* day. City pipped United to the league title and whilst all the commotion was going on, Hart could be seen running in circles, not knowing what he was doing at all. It was a moment that signifies the pure passion he has for football and Manchester City.
I hadn’t felt pressure like it since just before Aguero scored that goal. It was my 40th birthday, friends gathering for a big celebration. One small problem – City were playing Everton early evening and there was a league title on the line. I was a mess, celebrating anything the last thing on my mind. City went behind to a Barkley wonder strike, recovered to lead, then early in the second half Naismith broke clear and Hart stretched every muscle in his body to tip his shot round the post – it was a world class save by a keeper at the top of his game. Dzeko scored soon after and the rest is history. The save was largely forgotten in the story of that mad title challenge against Liverpool. Not by me. The rest of the night was a blur, and I have Joe Hart to partly thank for that. He saved more than one shot, and I’m forever in his debt.
I’m going to be cheeky here and choose a whole game as my favourite Hart moment. The one which I have chosen is the 0-0 draw against Spurs in 2010. It was the first game of the season, and the build up to it was dominated by predictions of whether Roberto Mancini would choose Joe Hart or Shay Given as his first choice ‘keeper. Hart was chosen, and immediately re-paid Mancini’s faith in him by making five world-class saves in the first half. Without Hart that day, we would have lost by at least three goals. Good luck at Torino, Joe.
My favourite Joe Hart moment just summed the guy up for me. It was following a 1-0 defeat away at Sunderland. We’d lost it in the last minute. He walked over to the away end and beat his chest. He smacked the badge. It could’ve been interpreted as apologetic. In a way, it might’ve been a little bit. But this guy got the away support, he understood what it was all about, to me, his body language said: “We’ll be back, don’t worry, we’ll fight to the end.” The rest is history, as later that season, Sergio Aguero fired City to the most dramatic title win in Premier League history. Joe Hart in particular, seemed to absolutely ‘get it’.
Joe Hart has provided so many lasting memories during his ten years at the club. He’s saved us from embarrassment on countless occassions. Personally, one of my favourite moments from him was his incredible save against Everton in the 2013-14 season. In a game in which we needed to win at Goodison to make the title a possibility, Hart pulled off a miraculous save, denying Steven Naismith on his left-hand side. Half of the Everton fans had already started celebrating, but Hart had other ideas – the way in which he closed off the angle, coupled with guiding the ball past the far post was something I’ll never forget. We won the game 3-2 and wrapped up the title seven days later. Thanks for the memories, Joe.
To be a goalkeeper is to excel or fail in utter isolation. This is hardly an original point and entire books have been devoted to this subject alone. What is rarely mentioned however is the unique situation it affords them in unique circumstances. When the ball whizzed off Sergio’s laces against QPR he was swiftly engulfed in team mates. We – the fans – were swiftly engulfed by friends, siblings, dads, pub mates. We were restricted by seats or coffee tables and screaming, gurning ecstatic loved ones. Joe wasn’t. From a multitude connected to Manchester City I would guess he was the only one anywhere on the planet alone in that surreal instant and with the space to run. And run he did. In a circle, arms outstretched, and exhaling disbelief and unbridled joy. In that brief moment he was a fan more than a player. He was one of us. And he always will be.