Brendan Rodgers hoping Celtic can give retiring Joe Hart ‘wonderful sign-off’

The former England goalkeeper is hanging up his gloves at the end of the season.

Joe Hart has six games left before retiring
Joe Hart has six games left before retiring (Steve Welsh/PA)

Brendan Rodgers has challenged Celtic to ensure the retiring Joe Hart bows out in a blaze of glory next month.

The 37-year-old former England goalkeeper announced in February that he would be hanging up his gloves at the end of this season.

Hart now has just six games remaining of his professional career, and every one of them currently has huge connotations as the Hoops – three points clear at the top – bid to seal the cinch Premiership title before facing Rangers in the Scottish Cup final on 25 May in what will be the ex-Man City keeper’s farewell appearance.

“He’s been an absolutely brilliant player in his career,” manager Rodgers told Celtic TV.

“If you go back to when he was at Shrewsbury as a young player and now fast forward, all his life, the commitment, the sacrifices he has made have all been for the team.

“He’s very much a team player. Seeing how he has supported his team-mates this season, he’s absolutely brilliant. Of course we want to do it for the club, but for Joe finishing off this would be a wonderful sign-off for him.”

Rodgers was at Parkhead on Sunday as Celtic staged ‘An Evening With Joe Hart’ and the manager revealed that the Englishman, who won 75 caps for his country, was blown away by the reception he received from supporters.

“If you’re a player that doesn’t really know what this club is about and you come into it, you hear all the talk around Celtic being a real family club and the passion of the supporters and the care they give to people,” said the Hoops boss.

“That (Sunday’s event) is an example of it. If they did that at the Hydro (in Glasgow) it would probably have sold out as well.

“But for the club to arrange that for Joe, for the tickets to sell out in one day, and for him to feel that affection, that is what players and people miss when they leave Celtic because it just does not happen in the majority of clubs, that feeling.

“He was just so appreciative of that from speaking to him during and after the event.”

Sunday’s event came just over 24 hours after Hart had missed a penalty in the Scottish Cup semi-final shootout with Aberdeen before making a decisive save from Killian Phillips minutes later.

Reflecting on the goalkeeper’s eventful afternoon at Hampden, Rodgers, whose side visit Dundee on Sunday, said: “It takes great courage for any player to step up and take a penalty.

“I’ve seen Joe here (at the training ground) and how well he hits it, so we had no hesitation in putting him on that fifth penalty. But I think where his experience comes in, he didn’t let it bother him.

“He had the miss, which was unfortunate, but straight away, the mindset shifts to being really positive and he ends up being the hero in a different way, in probably the way he would have expected.”