England Goalie Joe Hart

PUBLISHED: 17:38 15 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 20 February 2013

England Goalie Joe Hart

England Goalie Joe Hart

England Goalie Joe Hart's Shropshire upbringing and time at Shrewsbury Town have kept his feet firmly on the ground, says Rachel Crow

Finders Keepers

England Goalie Joe Harts Shropshire upbringing and time at Shrewsbury Town have kept his feet firmly on the ground, says Rachel Crow

Until the beginning of June it was still a waiting game to see whose names would be pulled out of the hat to be part of Englands squad for the World Cup 2010. Shropshires hopes were pinned on a rising star being in the final 23 picked by England manager Fabio Capello.

And so it was that a collective cheer rose across the county when on June 1, local lad Joe Hart was among those booked on the flight to South Africa.

Joe has been making a name for himself since his days playing for his home town team of Shrewsbury Town and now the 23-year-old goalkeeper has been representing his nation in the World Cup. Already given the taste of playing for his country as the England under 19 keeper and a regular in the England under-21 squad, Joe achieved his first full senior England cap in June 2008 in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.

Then at the start of last month came the news he was one of Capellos three chosen goalies, alongside David James and Robert Green.

Being involved in the World Cup team is a great honour, brilliant. I just want to do everything I possibly can to be involved and Ill work out the rest as it comes, he said.
Having played his part in a successful last season for Birmingham City F.C., where he was on loan from Manchester City, the modest and unassuming goalkeeper stuck to his formula, kept his head down and worked hard with the hope that it would pay off. And it has.

Recognition for his talent has come rolling in from managers and players alike in the past year. Crowned Player of the Season at Birmingham Citys Gala Dinner, he was also nominated in the PFA Young Player of the Year category, voted for by his fellow professionals. Although he didnt walk away with the award (it went to Aston Villa player James Milner) Joe was honoured to have been among the finalists.

I was surprised that the lads had nominated me and felt really privileged and quite proud to be involved. It means a lot more because it is nominated by the players, but any kind of recognition is really nice.

The former pupil of Oxon Primary School and Meole Brace School Science College, where he was Head Boy in his last year, has combined his natural talent with the right attitude.
Ive never been great academically; I was never top of the class but Ive always got on well with people in charge, he explains.

Ive always absolutely loved everything Ive done sport-wise and really given it everything, and still do to this day. I was always bigger and stronger at football because I had the height advantage, which is important when youre a kid, but I never realised I had a real talent and it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Having made his senior debut with Shrewsbury Town the day after his 17th birthday in April 2004, Joe got a step up to the first team the following season. Signed to Manchester City under a five-year deal in 2006, Joe notes how important his early days, first at Shrewsbury Academy and later in the first team, were in shaping his career.

We had a great youth team coach in Nigel Vaughan who kept everything together and kept everyones feet on the ground and worked really hard for us to have the best.

The youth team didnt train in the same place as the first team and at that age we couldnt drive, so we would get ferried about left, right and centre at the drop of a hat. Dave Timmins, the goalkeeping coach at the time, who is now back at Shrewsbury Town, was a huge influence on me and Ive known him since I was about 11 years old. I still speak to him today and hold him in really high regards in how my career has gone so far.

Ive never understood how my career has happened because everything has just moved along nicely. Big occasions have come along and Ive gone along with it.

Ive never really thought about whether playing for a Premier League is different to playing for Shrewsbury. Its just football and we have the same objective to go out and win and do the best we can. The facilities are better and opportunities greater, but you want the same result at the end of the day.

Still in touch with many of his former fellow Shrewsbury players that he grew up with, Joe regularly pops back to his home town to visit friends and family or watch his mum, Louise, in one of her many stage performances. She does tap, ballet, singing... she is an active mother, he laughs.

Family and friends are there for me when its good and when its bad, because its good and bad in equal measure and you need people around you that you love and trust. Ive had those people around me and wouldnt change them for the world.

Joe Harts Shropshire Life

What is the best thing about Shropshire?

Its just home. Its where I associate with and where I grew up and where everything came from, my grounding and my basis. I love Shrewsbury, my home town. Its a great place and a lot of people that I hold dearly are there. Shropshire is a beautiful, peaceful place and theres a lot more to it than people give it credit for.

What do you miss most when youre away from Shropshire?
In the nicest possible way, I try not to miss anything. Its not too far away from where I live in Manchester. Its always going to be home wherever I live and obviously family and friends still come to visit me, so its never really missed.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Shrewsbury?
Mum takes offence if I go to restaurants; her house is my restaurant. Shes a very
good cook.

Where do you like spending time when back home?
Mainly other peoples houses or we go to Attingham Park a lot, and I like to go there if I do
stay over.

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