Joe Hart has opened up on the circumstances behind his exit from Tottenham, admitting that he was informed in his first meeting with Nuno Espirito Santo that he will not be kicking a ball this season.
Hart completed a move to Celtic earlier this summer after Tottenham brought in Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta to serve as Hugo Lloris’ understudy.
The former England goalkeeper failed to make a single Premier League appearance at Spurs last season.
The 34-year-old has now admitted that he certainly was not under any illusions that he was going to be Tottenham’s number one when he arrived last summer, insisting that he enjoyed his role at the club under Jose Mourinho last season.
He also revealed that he was ready to commit to Spurs for another season until Nuno informed him that he will not be required.
Hart told The Daily Mail: “I spoke to Jose Mourinho (last summer). I love being at the top. I love fighting. The buzz that we talk about in football, there is nothing better.
“Once you have been fighting in a situation where every single match means life or death, with respect to a place like Burnley or West Ham, the environment isn’t on the edge. I like being on the edge. So Jose told me about his plans.
“There were no stupid conversations or promises. It wasn’t: ‘If you come here and are brilliant in training, you will take over from Hugo Lloris.’ I’m a grown-up, he’s a grown-up. Hugo is a top keeper.
“There were opportunities in the League Cup and the Europa League. He also had respect for me, which at this age is more important than wages or anything.
“I enjoyed talking to him, I enjoyed making it work. It was just a mad season for Tottenham, wasn’t it?
“I put my heart and soul into it. I loved being there for people like Dele Alli, who had such a tough time. I loved helping the younger lads.
“I made it my mission to show that every day I would be on it. No corners cut, no easing off. No reaction to not playing certain games.
“When we got to the later stages of some cup competitions, he told me: ‘I need my captain.’ I hated hearing it but I am a grown-up. I understood. If that’s what he needed to do, that’s what he needed to do.
“At the end of the season, I thought: ‘OK, one more year at Tottenham.’ I was then going to start to think about winding down.
“I like to commit, I like to wear the badge properly for the team I represent. And then, two or three weeks into pre-season, I was told: ‘No matter what happens, you will not kick a ball for Tottenham’.”
The goalkeeper admitted that although he understood Tottenham’s decision to let him go, he was extremely disappointed to be leaving the club.
He explained that Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou made him feel wanted, making his decision to join the Scottish club a straightforward one.
The former Manchester City man added: “That’s what Nuno (Espirito Santo) wanted. I never really had a conversation with him and the one conversation that we did have was that one.
“Look, maybe Tottenham needed a clear-out and maybe they had to be firm. But I alluded to this earlier. I was thinking to myself: “What am I doing here? I’m fit, strong, ready, committed.”
“But I spoke to my wife and I told her that I would sooner play 30 charity games and give something back with what I am trying to do. I’d sooner make myself available for my local park team, who are trying to raise a bit of money, and give my all than do this.
“I am not looking for sympathy. If a manager doesn’t want me, he doesn’t want me. This isn’t a piece about ‘Poor Joe Hart’. But I really felt that way. I was sad. I needed a few days to get my head together. I loved being at Tottenham, there are some really good people.
“I didn’t know what was next, it was going to have to be something to interest me. Spurs let people know I was available — I spoke to (Celtic manager) Ange Postecoglou.
“I told him how I was feeling, how I was happy to go and play on a park because I don’t need this **** anymore. I said you can take this as me being vulnerable, I just need a bit of love.
“I’ll be there with you, all or nothing. He said to me: ‘I do my research. I’ve not needed to do one bit of research on you as a goalkeeper, as I don’t need to.’ That made me feel good, first and foremost.
“He told me he had spoken to people I had played with in the past and people in the game — just about you. To come and do the job I want from you, I just needed to know about you as a person.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Hart’s effort and commitment last season cannot be questioned. The 34-year-old certainly put the team first and by all accounts, he was a great influence on the dressing room.
While he might feel that Nuno could have handled the situation slightly better, a man of Hart’s experience will understand that such is the nature of top-level football.
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