Soccer

Joe Hart still ‘up for it’ at Celtic and says retirement decision gives clarity

The goalkeeper will be 37 when his contract expires in the summer and says he hopes the announcement will end speculation.

Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart to retire at the end of the season
Joe Hart Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart to retire at the end of the season (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Joe Hart believes announcing his retirement from football will end speculation about his future with Celtic.

The former England and Manchester City goalkeeper will be 37 when his three-year contract expires in the summer.

Hart made his first-team debut for Shrewsbury in April 2004 and won 75 caps for England.

He followed Sir Kenny Dalglish and Andrei Kanchelskis in claiming winners’ medals in the three major trophies in England and Scotland when Celtic won the Scottish Cup last season but this will be his final season as he looks to help Brendan Rodgers plan for the future.

“This is something I have thought about for a while,” Hart told Celtic TV.

“There’s no right or wrong time is there but the way this club works is that I’m playing out at the moment. There’s so much on it. There’s so much heart and soul poured into what we’re doing as a football club.

“But with the grand scheme of the club, with the support base, and the conversations that go on around it, there’s obviously a conversation around the goalkeeping position for next season.

“So I just think it was really important that with the blessing of the club – I’ve had the conversations with the club with Brendan, with Stevie Woods (goalkeeping coach) – that we get the message out, it takes one thing off the table that people need to speculate over.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart during a training session at Enfield Training Ground
England Training Session and Press Conference – Enfield Training Ground England goalkeeper Joe Hart during a training session at Enfield Training Ground (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’m definitely not going to be there next season. I’m not going to be available to play football next season.

“So I want to take that off the table and then we can talk about why and then push forward.”

Hart still feels “great” physically and he stressed his commitment to the Parkhead club as they look to defend their cinch Premiership title and the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup.

Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart saves a header against Kilmarnock
Celtic v Kilmarnock – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart saves a header against Kilmarnock (Andrew Milligan/PA)

With 13 league fixtures remaining, the Hoops are two points behind Old Firm rivals Rangers and Hart, who joined the Scottish champions from Tottenham in 2021, promised Hoops fans he remains up for the fight.

He said: “Mentally I’m in that one place that I like to be, I’m in a place of clarity. Obviously, I’ve thought about this a lot.

“I think the right the right time is now. I’ve got the clarity of mind that I was able to go to the club and explain my position and them totally understand.

“I think the hardest thing for me once I’d made the decision was to explain that although I intend on finishing from June onwards, I’m so up for it. I’m so still so involved and still so committed.

Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart (right) lifts the Scottish Cup last summer
Celtic v Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Scottish Cup – Final – Hampden Park Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart (right) lifts the Scottish Cup last summer (Jane Barlow/PA)

“And I thank the club for that. I think Brendan and Stevie Woods for understanding where my mind was at and understanding me as a person.

“So I appreciate the open mindedness of the club and hopefully the open mindedness of the fans when they see this and understand that this is not someone who’s checking out, this is someone who’s just letting people know because they think it’s important.

“I’m not retiring from working. I just won’t be a goalkeeper anymore.

“All I want to do now is focus. I want to focus on the job in hand, representing this amazing club that I play for and living my heart and soul on the field.”