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‘He literally buried me ‘ – Joe Hart shares ludicrous Espirito Santo comments before he left for Celtic

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Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has been consistently impressive since leaving Tottenham for Paradise, but his former manager at Spurs didn’t see it coming, writes the 67.

Nuno Espirito Santo had an ill-fated spell at Tottenham. Early on, he dismissed Joe Hart, and in quite emphatic style, too. The former Porto and Deportiva La Coruña goalkeeper, prompted by the ex-England shot-stopper, gave his honest opinion on the now-Celtic number 1.

He did not hold back. And now, with Hart the undisputed first-choice at Celtic, chasing a domestic treble, the former Spurs gaffer looks a little foolish.

Speaking to the In The Stiffs Podcast, Hart said: “[Tottenham] needed a lot of people out, and a lot of people in. All of a sudden, they brought an Italian sporting director in.

“The movement started to happen, I was like ‘You know what? I’ve got another year here, I’ll do another year here’. I’ve played ten games, think we won all ten, but I didn’t do enough for people to warrant, for people to be knocking. Football was weird for me. I committed to it, so I was in it.

“[Nuno Espirito Santo] proceeded to, a couple of weeks in, call me in.

“Don’t know who’s office it was, some side office with the sporting director. He was like ‘I’ll speak first. Just to be clear, there’s someone I’m signing, there’ll be three goalkeepers. Let’s be absolutely clear: no matter what happens, you’ll not kick a ball this year’. I was like ‘right, okay’…

“I said ‘just out of interest, remove yourself from the situation, you used to be a goalkeeper… apparently… why has it come to this? Why am I now completely surplus to requirements in a squad, to not even be 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’. I’m starting to chuckle here. 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 went to the sporting director, he went ‘erm, err’, I was like ‘yeah I get it, it’s pretty awkward’”.

Being entirely fair, Espirito Santo went overboard, but his general point about Joe Hart was fairly widespread.

It seemed that, at the top level, Joe Hart was a spent force. Having burst onto the scene so comparatively young for a goalkeeper, he’d enjoyed incredible success. At 34, though, there didn’t seem like there was much left in the tank, so to speak.

I was one of those who doubted whether Hart would cut it at Celtic. How wrong I was. Hart comfortably leads the Scottish Premiership clean sheet charts, ahead of ex-Bhoys goalie Craig Gordon [SPFL]. On and off the pitch, he’s added vital experience to a really young Celtic squad.

The players around him love him. Celtic supporters have taken him into their hearts, and no question about it. He’s been sensational at times, making crucial interventions domestically and on the continent.

Too old? No. Not strong enough? An absolutely wild take.

Sure, Joe Hart probably wasn’t getting into the Tottenham first-team, certainly not under Espirito Santo.

But the Celtic goalkeeper has made any of his doubters look absolutely daft this season. He doesn’t seem to have missed a step, and he’ll be important for a while yet.