He’s ‘Head and Shoulders’ above the rest. For club and country, nobody in either squad comes close to him. But that’s not a good thing!
Joe Hart is undeniably a fine goalkeeper. He has come a long way from his schoolboy days Shrewsbury Town. Since his senior debut in 2004, at the age of 17-years-old and one day, Joe Hart has won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and one F.A. Cup - not bad at all.
But there is a danger for the Manchester City and England number one – he has had no real competition for his place. This is a huge risk because with no competition comes unintentional complacency and relaxation.
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HIS CAREER SO FAR
So he has moved around in his younger days. After a switch to Man City from Shrewsbury in 2006, he made his debut against Sheffield United and kept a clean sheet – every goalkeeper’s debut dream for a Premier League club.
In early 2007, he had a loan spell with Tranmere Rovers before moving onto Blackpool in April of the same year.
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He managed to displace Andreas Isaksson for two seasons before Shay Given took over at Manchester City. This prompted another loan spell, this time at Birmingham City. It was after his season on loan at Birmingham City that he was called up to England's 2010 World Cup squad.
Since then, he has been City’s number one - barring a few spells where he fell out of favour - and England’s number one after various candidates made howlers (Scott Carson and Robert Green look away now).
He is also the record holder for winning the most Golden Glove awards - a title given to the Premier League goalkeeper with the most clean sheet in a season. Hart currently has four to his name.
NO REAL COMPETITION MEANS NO REAL THREAT
It is simple really. If you have no real threat to something you’re good at, you become overly confident, knowing that even if you make a mistake, your place in the side is still secure.
Hart, unfortunately, has had this since becoming number one for club and country. On the club front, he has had an ageing Shay Given, Costel Pantilimon and Willy Caballero to contend with - hardly Petr Cech, Hugo Lloris and David De Gea.
On the national front, he has had Rob Green, John Ruddy and Ben Foster among those trying to pinch his spot. Again, neither have managed to sustain long periods and displace Hart.
This has seen Hart consistently turn out for the Three Lions and although he can be relied on in most games, occasionally his over confidence comes out and he makes a high profile mistake.
When you’re number one, there is nowhere to hide!
ANY EMERGING COMPETITION HAS COME A LITTLE TOO LATE
After his humiliating mistake against Wales in England’s Euro 2016 game - which was luckily rectified by Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge - it has highlighted the issue again that the 29-year-old just doesn’t have enough competition to keep him on his toes.
What should have been a routine parry, turned into an embarrassing two handed flap at Gareth Bale’s 30-yard or so free-kick - a mistake that has angered England fans everywhere who took to Twitter to display their feelings.
Burnley’s Tom Heaton has come into the Euro 2016 squad as the third choice but is hardly likely to replace Hart unless injury strikes.
Southampton’s Fraser Forster is the most likely candidate to succeed Hart but again, he is judged as being not quite of the required calibre just yet.
TESTING TIMES AHEAD?
It will be interesting to see how England's number one will perform against Slovakia after his recent mistake and more interesting to see how he can cope with the pressure should the Three Lions progress to the latter stages and draw a bigger team.
We certainly want to see him do well, but another mistake like the one in Lens could lead to an exit from Euro 2016 for England.
And next season, we should expect to see him under new pressure as the new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola comes in with new ideas. Notoriously the Spaniard isn't one to pick players on their reputation so Hart will have to earn his place like everyone else.
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