Goalkeeper Joe Hart is enjoying a great year between the sticks for Club and country, so fresh from recording his ninth shut out this season, Big Joe (mark II) has underlined his desire to get better and better.
He said: “This has been the biggest year in my professional life – but I have been saying that for the last few seasons.
“My aim is just to continue to improve and make the number one shirt my own on a permanent basis, which I don’t think it is at the moment.
“There is still a lot of improvement for me to make, plenty of things to work on and hopefully a lot of points for City at the end of it.”
Currently the England Under 21 keeper, Joe is keeping his feet firmly on the floor despite press speculation of a certain Italian taking an interest in his recent performances.
It is Joe’s manager at U21 level and now part of the senior set-up who first brought him to Manchester back in May 2006 – Stuart Pearce – and of his former City boss, he admitted: “Stuart Pearce showed a lot of confidence and faith in me and I can’t thank him enough for that.
“As soon as he was made the England Under 21 manager he announced his squad the next day and I was in it from virtually nowhere, which caused a bit a banter between the lads, but he has done terrifically well in charge of that team and I will always be grateful to him for signing me for City.
“The best way for me to show that is to keep playing well and prove that the money he spent on me when he was in charge of City was well spent. He is still interested in City and is proving that he is a good coach.”
With Sven-Goran Eriksson now at the helm, he has made the former Shrewsbury stopper his number one, impressing Hart all the way in the process.
“As for Sven he has been brilliant,” beamed the 20-year-old.
“It would have been easy for him to go out and buy another experienced goalkeeper, but he has had the confidence in me, and a lot of other young players at the Club.
“He has looked after everyone, has been very understanding and aware of what he has got at Manchester City.”
And in Hart, City have one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the country, but you wouldn’t think that listening to the player himself.
“I keep reading and hearing that we do not have that many top keepers in this country, but I could reel off five or six name straight away,” he noted.
“There is David James, Paul Robinson, Scott Carson, Chris Kirkland, and Robert Green then there is Ben Foster to come back.
“There are also some fine goalkeepers in the Championship who probably don’t get the credit they deserve. I think English goalkeeping is in decent shape.”
But despite leaving his own name out of the keepers’ role-call, Joe is in no doubt how he’d feel if the call came to step up to the senior England squad.
He declared: “Being involved with England is the biggest thing you can do.
“If I ever get picked for the senior team then you will not be able to fit the smile on my face!
“But if I am not involved I will not be disheartened because I only have to look back on where I have come from and how quickly things have happened for me.”