Joe Hart has revealed how a brutal critique of his abilities by Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo left him considering retirement.
The former England No 1 goalkeeper, 34, started the season with Spurs but was left ‘buried’ by the Portuguese boss, who told him he wouldn’t play a single minute more for the club.
Hart sealed a move to Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic shortly afterwards and has established himself as their first choice under coach Ange Postecoglou.
Joe Hart (right) has revealed how Nuno Espirito Santo (left) gave him a brutal critique of his apparently declining abilities at the start of the season, leading to his Tottenham exit
Nuno (second right) told ex-England keeper Hart (left) he was ‘too slow, too old and too weak’
But Hart, who played only 10 games for Spurs having signed from Burnley a year earlier, says he was close to walking away from the game he loved.
He told the In The Stiffs podcast, as reported by the Daily Record: ‘There was a big change going on at Tottenham.
‘They needed a lot of people out and a lot of people in. [Nuno] proceeded to call me in.
‘I knew they were signing another goalkeeper and I was like: “Do we need to have a conversation?” He said that we’d speak after training.
‘He was like: “I’ll speak first. Let’s be absolutely clear, no matter what happens, you’ll not kick a ball this year.”
‘I had got on really well at the club, people had bought into what I was trying to bring and I was like: “Right, okay.”
‘He said you’ll be free to work with the sporting director to get yourself out. However you want to play it, play it.
Hart, 34, was told in no uncertain terms by Nuno he would be warming the bench all season
The former Man City keeper had spent just one season at Spurs after joining from Burnley
‘I said just out of interest, remove yourself from the situation, you used to be a goalkeeper, why has it come to this?
‘Why have I gone from being whoever I was to being completely surplus to requirements in a squad, to not even being able to back up the first-choice? Speak freely.
‘He just went: “In my opinion, we all reach a point in our career where the body won’t allow you to play football. We’re at it now.
‘”I would not feel comfortable with you playing one minute for me.
‘”The ball’s too quick for you, you’re too old, you’re not moving, you’ve got no strength in your body.”
‘He literally buried me and I’m laughing because, whether I’m deluded or not, I was like, I don’t agree with any of that.
Hart has since established himself as Celtic’s first choice keeper, winning the League Cup
The 34-year-old, who won 75 caps for England, has been given a boost late in his career
‘I asked for your opinion, you have given it, it’s not what I wanted to hear and I am going to have to take myself out of this situation.
‘I literally went home and I am completely baffled here, I think I’m done, I can’t be a***d anymore.
‘I can’t sit in a room anymore and have that said to me by him.’
Former Manchester City keeper Hart, who’d spent two seasons at Burnley before signing for Spurs, continued: ‘Three years of literally not knowing what the hell I am doing.
‘Going in another direction just getting constantly volleyed in the face when all I am trying to do is my best.
‘I was like: “I don’t need this anymore. I’m strong, I’m healthy, I love football.”
‘I went home and said I’d prefer to play 30 charity games a year for anyone who would want me to play in goal and give something back.
‘I can’t be a***d with chasing the ace. I like playing football, but I don’t really like this anymore.
Hart revealed his gratitude to Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou for signing him last summer
‘Everyone who had my back couldn’t really argue. They were like: I get what you are saying.
‘I went back in the next day and said, the first bit, you are the manager, you make your decision. The rest of it was out of order.
‘It’s done. I’m not going to be a problem. I intend to train hard every day and find some sort of solution.
‘It was just dealing with another problem for him. He’s a manager and needed to clear wood. I was part of that wood.
‘He made his decision and backed it. Good for him. He was the boss and I’m out.
‘I got put in contact with Ange here. And I knew that Celtic had called anyway.
‘They said we’d be okay with you talking to them, I was like, cheers.
‘I’ve loved it, I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m really happy here.’
Hart pictured playing for England against Russia at the 2016 European Championship
Hart, capped 75 times for England earlier in his career, has played 46 matches for Celtic since he arrived back in August.
He helped the club win the Scottish League Cup with a 2-1 win over Hibernian back in December.
Celtic have exited European competition but sit three points ahead of Old Firm rivals Rangers at the top of the Premiership table as they seek to regain the title.
The two clubs meet at Ibrox this Sunday.
Nuno lasted only 17 matches as Tottenham boss before being sacked and replaced by Antonio Conte.