Dan Coker's Match Preview

Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matchdays – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, as England prepare to face Bulgaria in a qualification match for the 2020 European Championships, we look back at a former Hammers and England goalkeeper. Joe Hart was born in Shrewsbury on 19th April 1987 and was Head Boy at his school, Meole Brace, in his final year there. He was a competent cricketer, briefly playing for Shrewsbury CC in the Birmingham and District Premier League and also spending two years in Worcestershire’s youth squads. Hart represented his hometown football club though, making his full debut for non-league Shrewsbury in April 2004, a day after his 17th birthday. He played for the club in League Two in the following two seasons and earned international recognition, winning six caps at Under-19 level for England. He was voted into the 2005/06 PFA League Two Team of the Season by his fellow professionals and he moved to Premier League Manchester City at the end of that season.

Hart spent January 2007 on loan at Tranmere in League One and joined Blackpool in a similar short-term deal in April that year. He became first-choice goalkeeper at Manchester City under Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2007/08 – he had, by this point, also made his England Under-21 debut under the tutelage of former Hammer Stuart Pearce. Hart made his senior England debut under Fabio Capello in a 3-0 away win over Trinidad and Tobago on 1st June 2008, a match which also saw West Ham’s Dean Ashton win his only senior England cap. Hart was a half-time replacement for another former Hammer, David James, in that match. January 2009 saw Hart lose his starting place at City to new signing Shay Given, although he would go on to represent England Under-21s in the 2009 European Championships, a tournament which saw Mark Noble captain the Young Lions. Hart saved, and scored, a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out against Sweden but was booked for leaving his goalline during the shoot-out and was suspended for the Final, which England lost 4-0 to Germany. Hart won 21 caps for England at Under-21 level.

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Hart joined Birmingham on loan for the 2009/10 season and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season at the end of the campaign. He was named in Capello’s England squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, alongside former Hammer James and then-West Ham custodian Robert Green. Hart was chosen ahead of Given for the 2010/11 season by Roberto Mancini; he won the FA Cup at the end of the season and was again voted into the PFA Team of the Season as City won the Premier League title in 2011/12. Hart helped England to the quarter-finals of the European Championships under Roy Hodgson in 2012 and kept the highest number of Premier League clean sheets for the third consecutive season in 2012/13, a campaign which again saw him play in the FA Cup Final. Hart again won the Premier League under current Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini in 2013/14 and was England’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2014 World Cup, a tournament which saw the Three Lions exit at the group stage.

Hart also represented Manchester City in the Champions League, being described as a “phenomenon” by Lionel Messi in February 2015 after a performance against Barcelona in which he produced a record-breaking ten saves during the match. Hart’s performances at Euro 2016 played a part in him losing his place under new manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and he joined Torino on loan for the 2016/17 season, becoming the first English goalkeeper to sign for a Serie A club since the league’s inception in 1929.

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The 30-year-old Hart joined Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United on a season-long loan in the summer of 2017 and made his debut in a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United on 13th August 2017. He went on to keep six clean sheets in 23 appearances. Hart won four caps for England whilst he was with the Hammers, three in 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. In October 2017, Hart was targeted in his car by thieves in Romford, who stole his watch, wallet and mobile phone while he was at a petrol station. His most recent England appearance came during his time as a Hammer, in a goalless draw with Brazil at Wembley on 14th November 2017, his 75th senior cap in total for his country (he has also twice captained his country).

Despite this international clean sheet, Hart lost his domestic place to Adrian under new manager David Moyes the following month when the Spaniard came in to replace him against Manchester City, Hart’s parent club. Hart did play in a League Cup quarter-final defeat at Arsenal and played all three of the Irons’ FA Cup matches in 2018, including two ties against hometown club Shrewsbury. He won his starting place in the league back in March 2018 and kept a clean sheet in a crucial 3-0 home win over Southampton; he also particularly impressed in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea the following weekend. Hart’s 23rd and final appearance for West Ham came in a 4-1 loss at Arsenal on 22nd April 2018. He was not named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. After his season in east London, Hart joined Burnley in a permanent move in the summer of 2018. Now 32, he is currently second-choice behind Nick Pope at Turf Moor.

England v Bulgaria

England face Bulgaria today in a Euro 2020 qualifier – it will be the 11th meeting between the two nations. Hart played in the previous Wembley match between the two – a 4-0 win for England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in front of 73,246 on 3rd September 2010. Taio Cruz was number one with ‘Dynamite’, Grown Ups topped the UK box office and GMTV aired its last edition after 17 years on air.

Former Hammers Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe joined Hart in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up – it was to be a night to remember for Defoe, in particular, as he became the first England player to score a hat-trick at the new Wembley. The 27-year-old Tottenham striker was off the mark after just three minutes, slamming home a cut-back from Ashley Cole.

With just over an hour played, a save from Hart led to an England counter, with Wayne Rooney finding Defoe who tucked a left-footed shot into the corner for his second. Rooney was again the provider for England’s third with seven minutes of the contest remaining, finding substitute Adam Johnson on the right – the 23-year-old Manchester City winger cut inside before arrowing his first goal for his country into the net. Defoe completed his hat-trick on 86 minutes for his 15th goal in his 44th international appearance, Rooney creating the chance and Defoe firing left-footed into the far corner.

England: Joe Hart (Man City), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (captain, Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), James Milner (Man City), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham).

Subs: Gary Cahill (Bolton) for Dawson, Adam Johnson (Man City) for Walcott, Ashley Young (Aston Villa) for Defoe.

Bulgaria: Nikolay Mihaylov (Twente), Stanislav Manolev (PSV Eindhoven), Ilian Stoyanov (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Ivan Ivanov (Spartak Vladikavkaz), Zhivko Milanov (Vaslui), Stanislav Angelov (Steaua Bucharest), Stiliyan Petrov (captain, Aston Villa), Chavdar Yankov (Rostov), Ivelin Popov (Gaziantepspor), Martin Petrov (Bolton), Valeri Bojinov (Parma).

Subs: Dimitar Rangelov (Maccabi Tel Aviv) for Bojinov; Veselin Minev (Levski Sofia) for Manolev, Georgi Peev (Amkar Perm) for Popov.

The previous articles in the series are:

Vic Watson
Jack Tresadern
Billy Moore
Ken Brown
Bobby Moore
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Martin Peters
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Rio Ferdinand
Stuart Pearce
Frank Lampard Junior
Joe Cole
David James
Kieron Dyer
Robert Green
Stewart Downing