Top Line Summary

  • Addresses his retirement announcement
  • The factors that came into play
  • Looking ahead to the trip to Motherwell
  • Discusses the mood in the dressing room

Everything Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart said to the media, ahead of Sunday's trip to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership...

How has it been since you announced the news the other day?

We were off yesterday so a few messages came through. The majority of people that matter knew it was coming and I think the people especially those I know, they respect that this is just letting people know, and it’s not a time to go too deep. There’s a lot of work left to do and I’m looking forward to doing it.

Can you tell us about that decision-making process?

It was a natural three-year cycle that I had here. Previous to coming up here, I was a little bit lost in the footballing world. I felt like I still had my ability - this is not a complaint - but in the footballing world, you don’t have a place, especially as a goalkeeper. I didn’t quite fit and it wasn’t quite sticking the way I wanted it to. I got an opportunity to come up here and spoke to Ange Postecoglou and the club, I put a few things that I’d love to happen if I was given the opportunity, to which they were open to. I had to keep my end of the bargain by performing, and then I was embraced by such a huge amazing club. The most pleasing thing for me was a lot of the people here have respected that I came and I gave my all, whether it was good, bad or indifferent. I’m sure there are plenty of times people have wanted me in and wanted me out, but that’s the life of a goalkeeper. Ultimately, I’ve been respected as a person and welcomed into a really special cub. I’ll be 37 at the end of this season, what direction the club wants to go into, whether I fitted into that I wasn’t too sure, but we didn’t even have that conversation. I certainly wasn’t interested in trying to go and play anywhere else, so it felt right. I wanted to be strong, fit and ultimately happy. If there is such a thing, I feel I’m in that place, and I feel like this is the right time.

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This is going to be your final club. Would you say that looking back on your career this has been the ideal club to end your career with?

Who knows, I can’t think of hypothetical versions. All I can tell you is I have loved every moment of being here. Myself, my family, it’s been everything and more that I’ve wanted it to be. I’ll be forever proud that I’ve played and represented this football club.

You’ve won so many trophies in your career. What a way it would be to sign off with the league and Scottish Cup! Is that the aim and dream?

Regardless of what’s going on in my life, it’s got nothing to do with me. That’s the aim of this club and the aim of these players and the management team. We play to win and that’s such a unique opportunity for me, to feel fit and I want to put myself in the frame of mind to really go for it and go hard. Hopefully, the manager makes the decision to play me in these games and I can do my best to end with a successful season.

On to this weekend. How has the week been since the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock? How's training been and how is the dressing room in terms of atmosphere?

We've addressed the game. We should have put the game to bed. We kept Kilmarnock alive and fair play to them they have managed to get a point. It's not ideal for us and we know we can improve. We regularly play at a high level. We just need to get back at it. What a great opportunity on Sunday. A local game which we will take great support to. We are starting to get the squad fit and we can only look forward to a big game and a big opportunity.

You are still fit and you are still playing regularly. Why was now the right time to retire?

I've thought about it and there is a trend in football either physically or not having anywhere to go and I just took myself away from it. I respect everyone's decisions and how they want to do things. I just looked at it and I looked at the age I was going to be and I was aware of a lot of things as well as the stresses I had put myself through body-wise throughout my whole career and I didn't want to wait to be told. With a cycle of three years that I have managed to do up here, I am not really interested in playing anywhere else. It just felt right.

Was it important for you to make this call earlier in the season and not wait until the end of the season and announce it then?

No. I feel like I know. I wanted the club to know because I have got a lot of respect and love for this place. I want the club to move forward and go on to bigger and better things. No one needs the speculation of one of the regular starters whether he is going to be offered a contract, sign a contract or whether he's looking elsewhere. That's a needless narrative when all of a sudden we are all on the same page. I felt it was important to address it. There will be a couple of days of noise but we all know that on Monday nobody will care. Joe's retiring at the end of the season, Celtic needs a new goalkeeper but right now he's there and he will have his head down and will be fighting for this special club. 

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This is the first time in a long time that Celtic have not been top of the table. What's been the message in the changing room about the challenge you may face now?

I don't think the challenge changes. We still need to go out on the training field every day working as a team looking to improve. On Sunday we need to go out looking for the three points. Nothing really changes for us and it is nice to be sat at the top of the league. I've only been here for three years and we sat on top of the league for a long time. The year before we really had to work to drag ourselves back into it. What it is? Two points in it? There's plenty of football to be played. We're very positive and we are looking forward to the challenge. 

That starts on Sunday as you really need a big performance to get back on track after the Kilmarnock game, don't you?

Yes. It started on Monday when we were back in training. We were focused on Motherwell then. We want to put our best performance in that we possibly can and hopefully get the three points.