Joe Hart was one of the glaring omissions from Gareth Southgates’s 23-man England squad for the World Cup, but the Manchester City custodian has issued a classy statement on Instagram that has seen the 31-year-old come in for universal praise.
Not going to lie, I’m gutted. After 2 years of trying to make the most of a really tough situation, this is hard to take. I’m proud to have put in the graft and play every minute to qualify with the team and have a really important input in that outcome. I know what I bring to the team, but it is what it is. Good luck to the team out there, the players know that even though I won’t be there, I will have my England shirt on as a fan this time and supporting all the way. No fear, go and smash it. 🦁🦁🦁 and proud x
Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City in the summer of 2016 signalled the beginning of the end of Hart’s England career, for the Catalan tactician immediately declared the Three Lions keeper was not in his first-team plans.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager’s propensity towards ball-playing goalkeepers was well known and when he brought in Claudio Bravo from La Blaugrana, the writing was on the wall for Hart.
He departed on a season-long loan to Serie A side Torino but he didn’t have the best of times in Italy as a number of gaffes highlighted his weaknesses.
While Bravo had been an unmitigated disaster in his debut season, Guardiola remained undeterred and brought in Ederson from Benfica for a record fee.
Hart was farmed out to Premier League strugglers West Ham for the 2017-18 season but the Hammers began the campaign on a disastrous note, with manager Slaven Bilic getting the sack early on.
David Moyes’ arrival steadied the ship somewhat but Hart’s indifferent form saw him get dropped in favour for Spanish custodian Adrian and it wasn’t certain who was the club’s No.1 keeper by the time the season came to a close.
In the meanwhile, Jack Butland (Stoke City) and Jordan Pickford (Everton), two of England’s finest young shot-stoppers, went from strength to strength while the unheralded Nick Pope was a revelation for a high-flying Burnley side.
Southgate had been under pressure to drop Hart from the squad for over six months now and with his forward-looking policy enforced, the manager seems to have gone with youth instead of experience for the quadrennial showpiece.
England have been drawn in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia and they open their campaign on June 18 when the Three Lions take on Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena.