Joe Hart didn’t exactly have much to write home about when it came to his time with Tottenham Hotspur.
The former England number one has seen his career gradually decline since infamously being told by Pep Guardiola that he didn’t have a future at Manchester City due to his perceived lack of ball-playing ability.
Since that fateful moment, Hart has never really been able to nail down a consistent run of games at a club, turning out for the likes of Torino, West Ham United, Burnley and now Celtic.
Hart’s time at Tottenham
However, perhaps the most curious move amongst his post-City adventures was indeed that aforementioned spell with Spurs, which was brought about by Jose Mourinho in 2020.
The fact that Hart would have to play second fiddle to Hugo Lloris meant that it was a move that raised eyebrows amongst football fans, leading to suggestions that his career had reached a new nadir.
The City legend never made a Premier League appearance in north London, but nevertheless pulled on the gloves eight times in the Europa League and twice in domestic cups to keep himself busy.
However, the dismissal of the ‘Special One’ and the arrival of Nuno Espírito Santo last summer ensured that Hart’s time at Tottenham was over before it truly started, culminating in a move away to Celtic.
Brutal chat with Nuno
While Hart’s move away from Spurs seemed pretty understandable given his lack of minutes, it turns out that the divorce was far messier than supporters could ever have realised.
That’s because Hart has explained in a fascinating chat on the In The Stiffs podcast that Santo informed him that his Tottenham career had come to an end in eye-wateringly brutal fashion.
The 34-year-old candidly recounted that the former Wolverhampton Wanderers boss had told him that he wouldn’t be playing at all in the 2021/22 season because he simply didn’t trust him.
Per the Daily Record’s transcription, Hart recalled: “There was a big change going on at Tottenham. They needed a lot of people out and a lot of people in. (Nuno Espirito Santo) proceeded to call me in.
“I knew they were signing another goalkeeper and I was like: ‘Do we need to have a conversation?’ He said that we’d speak after training.
“He was like: ‘I’ll speak first. Let’s be absolutely clear, no matter what happens, you’ll not kick a ball this year.’
“I had got on really well at the club, people had bought into what I was trying to bring and I was like: ‘Right, okay.’
“He said: ‘You’ll be free to work with the sporting director to get yourself out. However you want to play it, play it.’
“I said: ‘Just out of interest, remove yourself from the situation, you used to be a goalkeeper, why has it come to this? Why have I gone from being whoever I was to being completely surplus to requirements in a squad, to not even being able to back up the first-choice? Speak freely.’
“He just went: ‘In my opinion, we all reach a point in our career where the body won’t allow you to play football. We’re at it now. I would not feel comfortable with you playing one minute for me. The ball’s too quick for you, you’re too old, you’re not moving, you’ve got no strength in your body.’
“He literally buried me and I’m laughing because, whether I’m deluded or not, I was like: ‘I don’t agree with any of that. I asked for your opinion, you have given it, it’s not what I wanted to hear and I am going to have to take myself out of this situation.’
“I literally went home and I am completely baffled here, I think I’m done, I can’t be a***d anymore.”
Hart later added: “I went back in the next day and said: ‘The first bit, you are the manager, you make your decision. The rest of it was out of order.’
“It’s done. I’m not going to be a problem. I intend to train hard every day and find some sort of solution. It was just dealing with another problem for him. He’s a manager and needed to clear wood. I was part of that wood.
“He made his decision and backed it. Good for him. He was the boss and I’m out.”
Goodness. It’s hard to hear Hart’s side of the story and not think that Santo took things too far.
It’s one thing to tell somebody that they shouldn’t expect to play that season, but another thing to brutally outline that you think they’re too old and that you wouldn’t trust them to play for a single minute.
Who knows, perhaps Santo has a different recollection of what was clearly a fraught situation, but the moral of the story is that Hart is enjoying himself far more with Celtic now and that’s great to see.