One topic of debate or discourse among Celtic fans as of late has to be this: Of all the great pickups over the summer, which of the last transfer window’s acquisitions has been the best for the Hoops?
It’s a tough question to answer, thanks to the tsunami of talent that came our way.
Of course, Joe Hart stands head and shoulders above the rest. Pun completely intended.
Any skepticism about whether the 34-year-old goalkeeper may be on the decline was vanquished quickly with a string of phenomenal performances once the season started. Nine clean sheets for the Hoops after being picked up for free over the summer from Tottenham Hotspur, Hart signed a three-year contract with Celtic and rose to the number one goalkeeper.
Not to take away anything from Scott Bain, Vasilis Barkas, or Conor Hazard — all of whom are adequate between the sticks — but Hart, above the rest, has been a godsend.
As mentioned in a previous post, Hart joins a class of transfers over the summer which has supercharged the side, and he has risen to the occasion.
Not only this, Hart “gets it” — he understands what it means to put on the goalkeeper’s jersey for Celtic; the only player on the pitch with the Celtic crest on his jersey not wearing the Hoops. Not only did he praise the fans visiting Easter Road yesterday for their support in Celtic’s 3-1 win over Hibernian, he also gave credit where credit was due to the fans who came to the Tuesday afternoon UEFA Europa League match at mid-month against Ferencvaros, thanking the 50,000-plus who attended the 2-0 victory.
Hart’s dedication to the fans and humility in postgame interviews proves that he’s custom-made for Celtic, despite a pedigree which has taken him to the best of the EPL and European teams (to say nothing, of course, for playing for his country).
And he said it best in a recent article in The Celtic Star: “I play for the club, I play for the badge and I play for the manager. I feel good in the shirt at the moment and I want to continue.”
We want you to continue, too, Joe.
One more thing
As mentioned in previous posts, I lived in Japan in the late 1990s and, as an aside, I have a history of seeing Shunsuke Nakamura play at Yokohama. Of course, I was teaching English in suburban Tokyo at the time and my adult students took me to a Marinos game, however in typical Yankee fashion I was more interested in the fact that I could get ramen in the stands than in anything that was happening on the pitch.
Yeah, I’m still kicking myself for that.
Anyway, the long reach of Celtic has established a beachhead in Japan once again, thanks to Kyogo Furuhashi. In Tokyo Station — one of the largest anywhere — Kyodo Sports News put up posters of the day’s sports news, with this one announcing Furuhashi scoring his 10th goal for Celtic against Hibernian (if my rusty Japanese is correct).
I picked this up on Twitter and credit goes to @sean_1am, a Glaswegian now in Japan. Thanks, Sean!
So we have Livingston visiting Celtic Park — Livi gets to play on a decent pitch for a change — at 3 p.m. on Saturday (7 a.m. in the wild and wooly West here).
Mon the Hoops.