England goalkeeper speaks of squad's pride at progress and pays tribute to supporters
By Nicholas Veevers
England's Joe Hart
was in defiant mood after helping the Three Lions to the top of Group D in EURO 2012 and setting up a quarter final clash with Italy in Kiev at the weekend.
Roy Hodgson's sided beat Ukraine in their final match of the group stages
on Tuesday to leapfrog France into top spot and into the last eight of the competition.
The Manchester City goalkeeper was delighted to have played a part in that and paid tribute to the England supporters who had made the long trip east to Donetsk, where many had expected England to struggle out of a group containing the hosts, France and Sweden but with a return of seven points, progress was secure.
"We've come here as a very strong group of players and we haven't listened to a lot going on outside of us," revealed Hart after the game.
"We've listened to the support of those magnificent people tonight and the brilliant people back home who have all wished us well.
"We're just really proud."
There was a moment of controversy in the game as Hart was beaten for the only time by a Marko Dukic shot, with John Terry rescuing England with a clearance off the goal-line. Whether the whole ball had crossed the line or not was of no concern to Hart though, who added: "I don't really care to be honest.
"The referee's there to make decision, and he's made his decision. It's 1-0, we won 1-0. That's it."
The squad now have a few days back at their base in Krakow in order to start the preparations for Italy, who they will meet in Kiev on Sunday evening to battle for a place in the semi-final.
And Hart feels there is no limit to what England can go on to achieve in the tournament after dealing with three tricky matches already.
"I feel we can achieve what we came here to achieve," he added.
"We came here to win games.
"We played France in the first game, which was a tough start and we felt we could've won that game.
"But we've won these last two games and we've done it in the group stages, so we'll take on whoever is in front of us next."