Ever since David Seaman retired, England have not really had a concrete number one goalkeeper. Paul Robinson tried and failed, David James couldn’t cement his spot in the side and after that mistake at the World Cup, I think it’s safe to say Robert Green will never play for England again. But last night, the person every England fan had been calling for, was called upon by Mr. Capello, and it looks a promising England future for one Mr. Joe Hart.
With the untimely injury of Ben Foster just days before the England game and the start of the new Premier League Season, it paved the way for Joe Hart to get his first start for England for the senior side, with his previous caps being a result of him being substituted on at half-time.
Hart played the full ninety minutes in England’s 2-1 win over Hungary, in the friendly game at Wembley last night, and although his services weren’t called upon too much, Hart played out a faultless performance. He was alert, commanding and quick: everything you would hope for in a goalkeeper. He also displayed a brilliant attitude in his post-match interview, showing that he is as cool and calm off the pitch as he is on it.
His performance showed that just the tender age of twenty-three years, he can perform just as well as an experienced goalkeeper in his prime. He plays his games for his club with an aura of confidence about him, and a daunting Wembley crowd of 72,000 certainly proved that he can continue playing with this same confidence on the bigger stage as well.
He conceded just the one goal last night, however it was of no fault of his own and there was not much he could do about it - although replays show the ball hadn’t even crossed the line. He was quick at distributing the ball to his defence, authoritative with his defence and with his wall when Hungary had free kicks, and was in control whenever he had a corner to defend. From being the most inexperienced player to go to the World Cup in the Summer, Hart fitted superbly into the England team last night, looking almost as if he had been there for a number of years already.
Joe also showed that he is always alert and ready, whenever he is called upon. After having had very little to do in the second half, a quick Hungary break near the end of the game left Hart in a one-on-one situation, to which he reacted quickly to prevent an equalising goal so close to the end of the game.
Whether Mancini will reward him as Capello did with the number one jersey is another story, but from here on, Hart’s career can only go one way and that is up. In Joe Hart we have an experienced ‘keeper - not so much internationally, but he has a lot of Premier League experience under his belt at the tender age of just twenty-three. He’s calm, decisive and plays not just with an air of confidence, but with an air of authority as well, especially when organising his defence. In football you need to make split second decisions and you need to have a good tactical brain; Joe Hart has had these qualities for years now, and now is his chance to put them into practice on the larger scale of international football.
Although we can’t judge everything on one game where he had little to do, and his real test will be in the Euro 2012 qualifying games, it seems as if at long last we’ve found our number one.