Joe Hart still frustrated by Manchester City loan exit... but England keeper is 'really, really grateful' to Torino
- Joe Hart left Manchester City for Torino on a season loan in the summer
- The England No 1 said Italy's goalkeeping pedigree influenced decision
- Despite an error on his debut, Hart has settled quickly into life in Serie A
- Hart: 'Football is a game of opinions... some people think I'm useless'
Joe Hart is pretty frank about his move to Torino in Serie A this season.
He is in the land of Dino Zoff, Gianluigi Buffon and Walter Zenga and is asked whether that may have been a factor in choosing Italy.
'It was but I'm not going to lie,' he says. 'I wasn't sat there with 25 options. I wasn't. Torino was a really good option for me and it definitely excited me to go to play in Serie A and to play for Torino. That fit, in the situation I was in, was a good decision.
Joe Hart believes leaving Manchester City to move to Torino was a good decision
The England No 1's decision to move to Serie A was influenced by Italy's goalkeeping pedigree
Apart from a blunder on his debut, Hart has enjoyed a positive start to his Torino career
'But it's not about making brave decisions. It was a decision I had to make and was comfortable with. I felt I was capable of doing it and, where my options were, it was the best one for me in my opinion.
'I had a situation at (Manchester) City where my playing time was going to be limited, full stop. So I had to look elsewhere. It was pretty quick. I wasn't given much time so when that opportunity came, I was really, really grateful.
'I spoke to the Torino manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, who made it clear that they did actually want me to play in the team, so that was enough.'
Many might have only tuned into to his first game, in which he made an error which cost a goal in the 2-1 defeat to Atalanta. Since then, his start has been much more auspicious: two wins, two draws, only two goals conceded and two clean sheets, with Torino in seventh.
The Torino ultras even have a Joe Hart banner, which has been loaned to them by Manchester City fans, who still hold him in great esteem.
The former Shrewsbury goalkeeper expressed his gratitude towards Torino for signing him
Torino ultras are also grateful to have Hart and have loaned a banner of him from City fans
The reasons for his move have already been intricately analysed. Pep Guardiola is a coach in the tradition of Johan Cruyff who regards his goalkeepers as the first line of attack, a playmaker who also happens to make saves.
Hart appears to be in a different category, a keeper who regards his job as primarily keeping the ball out. It is almost as if there are two distinct schools of keeping and Hart fits into the one Guardiola doesn't want.
'I don't know,' Hart says. 'I have to think selfishly about the whole thing and try to be what I'm capable of being. People have their opinions and will make statements on how things are and what they are. They might be right; they might be bang on.
'Some people you struggle to argue with. They've got a lot of strong backing to what they say and what they do.' The City manager might well fit this description.
'But I can only really look after me. I'm always looking, I'm always watching. I see new ideas, I like new ideas and I've got to work to my capabilities. Whatever I'm capable of, I need to be the best I can.
Hart does not the fit the style of goalkeeper City boss Pep Guardiola wants at the Etihad
'Football is a game of opinions and some people have a great opinion of me and some people probably think I'm absolutely useless. Unfortunately for me, one of the guys' opinions in charge of my club at the time wasn't as strong as it needed to be.
'So I needed to find someone who had an opinion of me who thought I could help their team. I need to improve and improve all the time because I'm still learning the game and the game is changing all the time. I love trying to improve. I love that challenge, whether I am playing Sunday league or playing abroad or Serie A or B.
'I've got quite a few people who I hold close to my heart and I trust and a lot of footballing opinions that I care about. But it's hard to please everyone and I learned quite early that that's never going to happen.
'So I've got my people who I trust and whether I'm right or wrong is to be debated. But in terms of changing everyone's opinions and making everyone think I'm great, you're not going to win'
He has made an impressive start in Italy off the pitch as well, speaking in the native language when he was introduced in public and even if that was a scripted, rehearsed passage, no-one should underestimate how difficult it is to do that. Essentially, it puts you on the back foot, in a place of vulnerability.
Fraser Forster has been in fine form for Southampton and is pushing Hart for his England place
And Hart has had some enforced humility of late, with the costly errors at Euro 2016 and the rejection by Guardiola. Fraser Forster is pushing for his England place and when Jack Butland is fit that challenge will be intensified. It once seemed Hart could own the position for years, though he says he never believed that.
'That might have been your opinion but I don't think it's ever been mine,' he says. 'Right from playing Under 14s at Shrewsbury Town, you've got to be aware of your surroundings. There's always a threat to my place and that's very evident because we've got some fantastic keepers.
'Tom (Heaton) and Fraser (Forster) are performing brilliantly in the Premier League from what I've seen. Sunderland aren't doing well as a team but Jordan (Pickford) is doing well. It's the same at my club side — we've got Danny (Daniele Padelli) who is a good keeper. So there are good keepers everywhere you look and you can't rest. There is never that feeling.'
On Tuesday, he will line up against Slovenia, still England's No 1. He says he has enjoyed Gareth Southgate's leadership so far, but is aware, as one of the senior players at fault in the debacle against Iceland, that he needs to play his part in solving the conundrum of why England are so disappointing.
The Premier League winner believe it's important for England to 'create an identity'
'I think it's definitely down to us to create an identity of the team that we are trying to be,' he says. 'Win, lose or draw, I think we need an identity of why we won, why we lost, why it didn't go very well. That's a big thing for me. As I am learning more and more about the game, it's easier to move on if you know why things have happened.
'Obviously our intentions are to win every game; that goes without saying. We discuss that in the group. Everyone's 100 per cent intention is to win. But other things come with that: what we want to get out of it; a structure and a reasoning; a way of playing and a comfortable way of knowing what we're doing.
'You can't fault the commitment of every single one of these players. But it's only the extreme late-goal winners or really sad losses when you really do see an emotion because it's the only time you can really give it, because during the 95 minutes you can't really show that emotion, because you need to be fighting to win.
Hart is not sure about where he will be plying his trade next season but is committed to Torino
'So we need to channel our emotions and our pride, and put in the right places to move forward.'
The rhetoric full of hope and he seems ready to throw himself into the new challenges.
'How this season plays out, or what comes of it, will be however it ends up. I'm at Torino with huge commitment to the club, huge commitment to the season, the culture, the football and I'm going to give it my all. Whatever happens, happens.'
Or que sera, as they say somewhere.
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