Joe Hart: Competition for England jersey drives me on

Saturday 14 Mar 2015
England goalkeeper Joe Hart

Joe Hart says the strong competition for the England number one shirt drives him to keep improving.

The Manchester City goalkeeper lost his place for a spell last season, but bounced back to help the Citizens win the Premier League and go on to represent the Three Lions in the World Cup last summer.

He has continued to produce a series of consistent performances this campaign for City, seeing him remain first-choice for his country, but he refuses to get complacent with so many rivals battling to take his spot from him.

England v Lithuania

UEFA European Qualifier
7.45pm, Friday 27 March 2015
Wembley Stadium connected by EE

“I don’t think you can ever feel established with England,’’ Hart said. “You can enjoy what you’re doing but there’s no point in feeling established.

“We’ve some fantastic keepers. We’ve got Fraser [Forster]. He’s let about one goal in this season! Ben [Foster] is making save after save with West Brom and up until recently hadn’t conceded in four or five games.

“Greeny [Rob Green] is flying around at QPR making save upon save. There’s Jack [Butland] in the England Under-21s. There’s an abundance of talent. It would be incredibly stupid of me to ever think my place was safe.”

And with all that fierce competition in mind, Hart has continued to try and improve his own game.

“I’m working on distribution daily,’’ said Hart, speaking to The Telegraph. “People have started playing differently against us [City] recently.

“People have come fully intending to get a result whereas before it was difficult because it was 11 men behind the ball, damage limitation, as we were banging five or six goals in a game. Now people are leaving a bit more space for me to play to our players. It’s the Premier League. Everyone goes for each other. Everyone feels they can beat anyone.”

England take on Lithuania on Friday 27 March as they look to continue their 100 per cent record in Euro 2016 qualification, and then travel to take on Italy four days later in what would earn Hart his 50th cap should he appear in both.

England and Manchester City keeper Joe Hart

Hart revealed he has been working on his distribution this season

After the disappointment of the group stage elimination at the World Cup, Hart says the hunger is there within the England camp to make amends for their Brazilian heartache.

“We are building something great with England – like England always seem to be doing. I’ve been a part of three championship teams (South Africa 2010, when he didn’t play, Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014) and going in with a genuine hope in all three and not done it. It felt dreadful coming back from Brazil.

“After that Uruguay game, it was hard. I’ve felt a lot of highs in football but that was deeply upsetting. Not because I thought I was going to be called a failure. It hurt because we invested everything. We did all the preparation. All the lads were on board. The management was on board. We did everything and we let ourselves down which is a horrible feeling. The dream just didn’t happen for us.”

He added: “But we go again. We have that desire to go again. There is so much hunger there. There’s a great new squad. There’s some really good kids coming through, a good age for the France championships (2016) and the Russian ones (2018).

“There’s no point me saying we are going to win it, because we’ve said that since 1966. It’s a long time to keep saying we are going to win. The only way we can make that relevant is to do it.”

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer