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Joe Hart ‘offered career lifeline’ by League One club

Joe Hart, who recently became a free agent, was ‘offered career lifeline’ by League One club he used to play for, according to reports.

Four years ago, Hart played for Man City in their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and it is less than three years since he last of his 75 caps for England.

Now for the first time in his 17-year professional career, the goalkeeper has no club.

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He was most recently Burnley’s reserve goalkeeper, though he learned last week that he will be released when his contract expires on the 30th of June.

The Daily Mirror has reported that Shrewsbury Town are lining up a sensational swoop for the 33-year-old; however manager Sam Ricketts has told local media that whilst he asked about the possibility of bringing him through the door, he was told that Hart wants to continue his career at the highest level.

Ricketts said: “In terms of interest, from our part yes. Joe would have an interest, but not so much as in coming back to play.

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“He’s still at a level where he can play at a much higher level, not just in this country but abroad as well.

“It’s something that I put to him and his people, I said ‘do you fancy coming back?’. But he’s ready to continue his career at the highest possible level.

“He has interest from top-level teams so it’s not going to be one for us. Sentiment doesn’t rule the head on this one.”

Hart, who made 58 appearances for Shrewsbury before joining Man City in 2006, told Ricketts he may return when he stops playing and that he hopes to join a top-flight club in the meantime.

Hart attracted interest from the MLS before the lockdown, and he is keen to play regularly again at a high level after being restricted to just three cup appearances this season.

He departs Burnley, and has since been linked with a move to Celtic, Arsenal, Inter Miami and Leeds.

Others to be let go by the Clarets are Aaron Lennon, Phil Bardsley and Jeff Hendrick, who is a target for Newcastle.

33 year old Hart spoke to BBC Sport about his past, his future career and the importance of talking about mental health.

He said: “The fact I have had to sit on the bench for 18 months in the Premier League is not going to define or crush me.

“I remember who I am. I remember playing for my local Sunday league team and trying to get into the Shrewsbury Town first team. I learned early – you need to keep things in perspective.

“You can have great things said about you in football, but you have to be strong on self-criticism, analyse what you are doing and be comfortable with it.

“Maybe from the outside, people are thinking it is a time for panic, but from the inside it is a time to look forward and see all the opportunities.

“I am young when it comes to goalkeeping. I am even younger when it comes to the mental age of a guy who just wants to go in goal and have people whack balls at him.

“I am under no illusions that Real Madrid are going to knock my door down, get [Thibaut] Courtois out and bring me in. But there is plenty more to come from me.

“I just need someone to believe in me and I will repay that faith.”

JOE HART’S PLAYING CAREER:

2003–2006 – Shrewsbury Town – 54 games
2006–2018 – Manchester City – 266 games
2007 → Tranmere Rovers (loan) – 6 games
2007 → Blackpool (loan) – 5 games
2009–2010 → Birmingham City (loan) – 36 games
2016–2017 → Torino (loan) – 36 games
2017–2018 → West Ham United (loan) – 19 games
2018–2020 – Burnley – 19 games

National team
2005–2006 – England U19 – 6 games
2007–2009 – England U21 – 21 games
2008– England – 75 games

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