Few goalkeepers have made an impact as impressive and long-lasting at Manchester City as Joe Hart did at the club. Hart moved to Manchester in 2006 and after loan spells to Tranmere Rovers, Blackpool and Birmingham City, the goalkeeper made the number one position his own in Manchester.
A key part in both of City’s first Premier League titles in 2012 and 2014, Hart garnered a reputation for being reliable and skilled between the posts. Hart’s performances in the league, domestic cups and especially on Champions League nights wowed, excited and, at times, stupefied crowds season upon season.
His record at City stands for himself with the player earning four Golden Glove awards, a record matched only by Petr Cech. Hart, now at Celtic, turns 35 years old today and we celebrate by looking back on his five most memorable moments for Manchester City.
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Usain Bolt impression vs United
In November 2008, a 21-year-old Hart started the Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium. With the scoreline at 1-0 to the visitors with just minutes to go, Hart ambitiously went forward for a City corner, in search of a remarkable equalizer.
What occurred in the next moments was almost as shocking as a late goal from the keeper would have been. United forward Wayne Rooney, seeing that Hart was out of his box, took aim and shot from around 50 yards from goal, towards an apparent empty net.
The City keeper, by some miracle, managed to recover, running the entire length of the pitch in just ten seconds to keep out Rooney’s long-range effort, dramatically clearing it off of the goal line. Although City did lose the game, few have forgotten the pace, commitment and drive that the keeper showed to get back and stop further bragging rights for the Red Devils.
Title celebrations vs QPR
If City fans were asked to name their choice for the club’s most memorable moment, many would surely choose City’s dramatic comeback against QPR in May 2012 to win the Premier League for the first time. City knew they needed to win to secure their first title in 44 years and stop rivals Manchester United from claiming their 20th but found themselves 2-1 down to the ten men of relegation-threatened QPR in the dying minutes of the game.
We all know what happened next as Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero ensured a comeback of monumental proportions and in turn produced scenes of wild delirium in the Etihad Stadium. One of the most famous scenes from the celebrations is that of Joe Hart running around the City half, arms wide open in happiness, before embracing left-back Gael Clichy.
This sight of Hart has become iconic amongst City fans as it perfectly characterized the emotion in what was arguably the craziest moment in Premier League history.
Joe Hart vs. Lionel Messi
In one of Hart’s most mature performances for Manchester City, the English international put out a five-star showing versus the man who many regard as the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi. Hart’s City were taking on Messi’s Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter in 2015. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, City knew that they couldn’t afford to ship many goals in on the night.
Despite City falling foul to an Ivan Rakitic strike in the first half and going on to lose the match 1-0, Hart’s goalkeeping performance was what grabbed the headlines. The game soon proved to be all but a one-on-one battle between the Argentine great and Hart. The latter produced 10 saves to deny Messi and keep City in the running.
This number of saves was the most by a goalkeeper in a Champions League game that season, highlighting the remarkable individual performance from City’s number one. As said already, City did eventually lose the tie but wasted chances such as a missed penalty from Sergio Aguero were the root of the problem rather than goalkeeping. Hart had even saved a Messi penalty late on in the home leg to give his side a fighting chance.
Joe Hart: Penalty Taker
Although this moment did not take place in a competitive game, we just could not leave it out. Ahead of what was to be Hart’s final season at City, the club were on a preseason route of Australia and in July were playing Italian side Roma in the International Champions Cup.
Although this match is remembered for it being Raheem Sterling’s debut and the Englishman’s first goal, Hart’s involvement that day lives long in the memory. After the match had finished 2-2 in regular time, the clash went to penalties.
Trusted penalty taker Aleksandar Kolarov had critically missed for City, leaving the English team on the cusp of defeat and needing to score their fifth penalty. Who should stroll up and collect the ball to take?
None other than the goalkeeper himself. Hart proceeded to smash the ball into the top-left corner to everyone’s surprise apart from his own. Confident in his abilities from him, the shot-stopper then went on to save from Seydou Doumbia and Seydou Keita to win the game for City.
City’s first Champions League semi-final
One of Hart’s crowning glory moments is undoubtedly his quarter-final performance against Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 to help City reach their first-ever Champions League semi-final. City faced the French champions at the Etihad Stadium following a 2-2 draw in Paris, knowing a positive result for the club would ensure a place in the semi-finals and make history.
Paris, as expected, attacked and attacked strongly. The French side’s frontline peppered the City goal with shot after shot, including a couple of free-kicks from dangerman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Hart dealt with it all, again being City’s reliable rock for the evening. City took the lead in the second half through a fabulous Kevin De Bruyne strike and Hart held on tightly to the clean sheet even after the home side went in front.
The Englishman’s colossally confident performance was enough to ensure safe passage. This performance coupled with a brilliant penalty save from Ibrahimovic in the first leg, showed Hart to be a pivotal force in writing a chapter of City’s history once again.
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