Joe Hart’s triple save Monday night for Manchester City against Liverpool as well as his heroic saves for City against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season have been the difference for City thus far this season. City would definitely have lost against Spurs if it wasn’t for Hart. And the scoreline in Monday’s entertaining game against Liverpool would have been much closer if Hart hadn’t been playing.
Hart’s agility and speed are incredible to behold. Watching him Monday night, he reminded me of two great England goalkeeping legend from the past, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence. While Hart still has a long way to go before he can match Shilton or Clemence, he has the potential to be considered with those greats. The key marker is consistency. It’s the concentration of a long season in England and Europe that will test Hart. The former Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper has a long way to go before he can establish himself as the permanent Manchester City and England goalkeeper, but his performances so far this season have persuaded any doubters that he has the talent. Whether he can pull it off on a consistent basis, we’ll have to wait and see but he’s been a joy to watch especially during the drought of England goalkeeping talent.
In the 1970s and 1980s, England’s goalkeeping talent was so good that the national team manager often had a very hard job choosing which goalkeeper to select. As a result, Shilton and Clemence were both used interchangeably. And, at the time, there was always serious debates about which one supporters preferred. Myself, I was a Ray Clemence man. I had nothing against Peter Shilton, but maybe it was because the Liverpool team of the late 70s were so awe-inspiring to watch that I preferred Clemence. Or maybe it was because Shilton was more of a journeyman goalkeeper, while Clemence started off with Scunthorpe, playing 48 games there and then, incredibly, Clemence made 665 league appearances for Liverpool and then went on to play 240 times for Tottenham Hotspur. Shilton, on the other hand, played at Leicester City, Stoke, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Derby, Plymouth, Wimbledon, Bolton, Coventry, West Ham and Leyton Orient. All in all, he amassed 1005 league appearances.
At the international level, because of the competition for the number one jersey with Shilton, Clemence made 61 appearances for England in a 12 year international career. Shilton, on the other hand, had a 20-year international career with England and earned 125 caps.
For a glimpse at the incredible goalkeeping saves of Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence, watch the following videos: