Why Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart didn't come to Paradise a year earlier

By Euan Davidson

March 29, 2022

Who knows how last season could’ve gone for Celtic had Joe Hart arrived at Paradise in the summer of 2020.

Certainly, the Hoops would’ve have shelved out £4.5m on Greek international Vasilis Barkas. Hart, after his first campaign with Tottenham, might’ve helped. Admittedly, it would’ve taken more than a confident goalkeeper, but it’s a fun thought exercise.

It could’ve happened, too. However, the Celtic board had concerns. It was going against their transfer methodology to look at a 33-year-old goalkeeper.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

With the Celtic model built upon snaffling talents, developing them and selling them on for multiples of what they were bought for, Hart didn’t quite fit into that. He knew it, too. Still, Hart was keen to make the move eventually, and clearly Celtic had a change of heart after a merry-go-round in goals for the 20-21 season.

Especially after Hart was savaged by Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who didn’t last long in the Spurs dugout.

Speaking to the In The Stiffs Podcast, Hart said: “I’d actually spoken to Celtic the year before.

“They decided at the top there was no resale value in me. So they didn’t want to take me on, to have no resale in me doing well.

“If I did well, great, they wouldn’t gain anything from it. So I was like ‘[laughs], fair enough’. It never got started, it was something that I was open to, and then Tottenham…”

Things are falling into place as Celtic’s big derby week begins

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Celtic delay in signing Joe Hart looks daft in hindsight, but let’s be fair…

Would it have been better to have Joe Hart in goal for Celtic last season than Barkas, Bain or Hazard?

Undoubtedly, yes. However, in football as much as anything else, timing is everything. Things tend to work out the way they do for a reason.

Hart undoubtedly fits into Celtic much more comfortably under Ange Postecoglou. While Hart would’ve needed no selling to move to Paradise, a demoralising year with Neil Lennon might’ve seen him out the door in the summer just gone. It’s all hypothetical; that’s the point.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

It’d be easy to ask “what if” and assume we’d concede far fewer goals with Joe Hart between the sticks last season. However, the support were in debate over Hart’s value when he signed this summer. He had doubters, and with good reason, given his prior struggles.

Still, this shows something bigger, where Celtic are concerned. It’s fine signing players, developing them and moving them on. Sometimes, though, you need experience and known quality to make the best from the present. Signing Joe Hart, as it turns out, was a master-class in doing just that.

It’s not all about long-term plans. Often, you need the right player for the right moment.

Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone suggesting Joe Hart isn’t that for Celtic.

Read more: Joe Hart shares ludicrous Espirito Santo Tottenham comments before he left for Celtic