WHEN Joe Hart got the chance to sign for Celtic, he didn’t come to Glasgow in search of money, or even necessarily trophies in the first instance. What he wanted most of all was to rediscover the joy that was slowly being squeezed out of the game for him during his last few years in England.

Ange Postecoglou has not only given that back to the 34-year-old, but he has also given him the respect he had been missing, and the steadfast backing of his abilities as a keeper that he was finding hard to come by elsewhere.

The Celtic manager has been repaid handsomely so far by Hart’s performances between the sticks and the leadership he has displayed on the pitch too. For Hart, he always knew he had it in him to not only the form that once made him England’s number one goalkeeper, but also the happiness that football had always brought to his life, and he is grateful to Postecoglou for giving him that opportunity.

"It's the kind of place I wanted to come to when I got the chance,” Hart said.

"Ange is a pretty simple guy when it comes to the information he gives.

"I'll be honest, and I said it when I came here, at that point football wasn't doing everything that it had done for me in my life. I don't know where my thoughts were with it, because I am very committed to what I do.

"I told Ange when I spoke to him that I didn't quite know how to feel about football at that moment. He understood and he was very simple in what he said. He told me, 'If you come here you will be treated with a lot of respect and will get a lot of responsibility'. Ange also said, 'Regardless of anything, I believe in you as a goalkeeper'.

"No matter who you are, you need to hear that. You need to know someone has confidence with you.

"I felt that with him and he has kinda left me to it, to be the person and player that I am.

"I have been around a long time, I have seen a lot. I have been allowed to bring that to the team, as well as what I can do the field.

"I need to be careful with my words. I didn't necessarily fall out of love with the game. Never have I ever not loved football, and I doubt I will. But the industry, the business side of it...I didn't love.

"That's not me being a victim. I get it. I get that football is cut-throat and there are lots of people who have a lot of opinions. I fell on the wrong side of a lot of them.

"I didn't expect anything when I signed. I like to live in the moment and try to enjoy experiences for what they are. I am certainly doing that here.

“I have realised for myself what a special club this is. I am enjoying being part of Celtic.”

Given the way Hart’s career had gone in the few years leading up to his arrival at Celtic Park, he understands if the perception from the outside was that he was happy to wind down his career in a back-up role, as many other keepers the wrong side of 30 seem comfortable in doing.

Even when he was warming the bench at Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur over the past few seasons, his desire was always to push to be a number one again, and he thinks he can do that for many years to come.

“I wouldn’t even consider winding down, I don’t know why I would,” he said.

“I don’t see an end to my footballing career. I’m physically very capable, mentally very capable, and I feel like I’m more than good enough to be playing at the level.

“Even at Spurs, to the untrained eye that was me going to play back-up, but that’s not why I went there.

“I went there for different reasons with different conversations making my decision, so no is the simple answer to that.”

Indeed, Hart is adding new strings to his bow at Celtic, saying that he is thriving on the responsibility of using his feet more within Postecoglou’s system.

“It’s a lot of fun, I’ve enjoyed it,” he said.

“I’ve always felt like I was capable of doing it, and with the right system and the right movement, it’s something that I’m enjoying.”

Not that he hasn’t had one or two scares along the way. The keeper certainly had Celtic fans’ hearts in their mouths as he attempted something of a Cruyff turn in his six-yard box in the recent win over Motherwell at Fir Park.

Thankfully for Hart, he pulled it off under pressure from ‘Well winger Kayne Woolery, though he revealed there wasn’t really a grand plan when asked what was going through his mind at that moment.

“Nothing!” he laughed. “I’ve had a few of those moments throughout my career and none of them are planned.

“I was trying to hold onto the ball for as long as I could to create space, took my eye off the ball, and next minute I was passing it to Boli (Bolingoli). I kind of blanked out a little bit!

“Ideally I don’t want to be doing that again, but if you have to, I suppose you have to.”