Joe Hart has been rewarded for being the Barclays Premier League's top stopper last season with a new five-year deal at Manchester City – and the king of keepers was quick to praise former rival and club colleague Shay Given for the ‘massive’ influence he had on his career.
The England No.1 kept 17 clean sheets in the league 2010-11, two more than Chelsea's Petr Cech, as he forced himself into the City side during a momentous season at the Etihad Stadium.
Hart kept another clean sheet in the FA Cup final at Wembley to help City beat Stoke, while another shut out against Tottenham Hotspur assisted Roberto Mancini's side in confirming their spot in this season's Champions League, leading to an improved deal for the 24-year-old, who has committed to City until 2016.
"I'm absolutely delighted to have signed a new deal and it is a very exciting time to be a City player," he said. "I can't think of myself being anywhere other than City and it really feels like home. I feel very privileged to be staying here for another five years.
"When I signed from Shrewsbury it was always my aim to become the No.1 here and I was prepared to do anything to achieve that, including going out on loan a few times to prove my worth."
Hart ousted Shay Given from the City first team at the start of the last campaign, and subsequently went on to endure a superb first full season with City after a successful loan spell with Birmingham City 12 months previous.
The former Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool loanee is adamant that he still has much to learn, and will continue to watch his former team-mate Given.
"Shay's influence on me has been massive and being able to work alongside him has brought my game on tremendously," he added. "I've lost a close friend and a fantastic teammate but I'll keep in touch and talk with him on a regular basis.
"Shay was always appreciative to the situation here at City and backed me all the way, as I would have done for him if the tables had been turned.
"I'll continue to learn from Shay even though he's now playing for Villa just by watching him on TV."
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