Football Soccer Time to move aside Hart at peace with retirement
Football Soccer Time to move aside Hart at peace with retirement

Football: Soccer-‘Time to move aside’: Hart at peace with retirement decision

(Reuters) – Joe Hart said it was the right time to hang up his gloves as he prepares to retire at the end of the season, with the former England goalkeeper receiving an emotional tribute during Celtic’s final home game of the season on Saturday.

Hart, who joined Celtic on a three-year deal from Tottenham Hotspur in 2021, was instrumental in the club’s march to a third straight Premiership title, making 37 appearances in the league and 48 across all competitions.

The 37-year-old will retire having made over 700 appearances in club football while also earning 75 caps for England.

“It’s a sad day, but it’s the right time,” Hart told Sky Sports after Celtic lifted the Premiership trophy.

“I got this opportunity which I couldn’t turn down. I didn’t know how it was going to play out… I got to a point in my life where I got an opportunity and I didn’t want to push that luck.

“I wanted to finish strong. I wanted to finish in this special place. It’s my time to move aside and let someone else have some fun… I feel fine but I just felt this was my moment. We’ve got one more week to go now.”

Celtic fans unfurled a massive banner with the words “Super Joe Hart” and the veteran goalkeeper was seen holding back tears as he acknowledged the crowd.

Hart also wore the captain’s armband when skipper Callum McGregor was substituted but came off in the dying minutes to a standing ovation as he bid farewell to Celtic Park.

Hart was instrumental in Manchester City winning their first two Premier League titles in 2011-12 and 2013-14, but he lost his place in the squad when Pep Guardiola took over as manager.

Following loan spells at Torino and West Ham United, Hart moved to Burnley and Spurs before finishing his career at Celtic.

When asked if he would have regrets about retiring when he was still in fine form, Hart said: “Life’s about making decisions and I stand by them.”

Hart will have the chance to wrap up his career with one more trophy when Celtic play Rangers in the Scottish Cup final on May 25.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru)

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