Joe Hart cannot wait to be reunited with two old footballing friends at West Ham United.
The goalkeeper, who agreed a season-long loan from Manchester City on Tuesday, will enjoy his first training session with a pair of familiar faces at the Hammers’ Austrian base today.
Hart spent eight seasons as a teammate of fellow new boy Pablo Zabaleta at Manchester City, where the duo won two Premier League titles. He has known West Ham captain Mark Noble even longer, with the 30-year-olds striking up an enduring friendship as England U21 teammates who reached the European Championship final back in 2009.
“Pablo is just part of the furniture and we probably harm each other’s eyes now, we’ve known each other that long and been part of the same club!” joked Hart.“I’m looking forward to linking up with him again and it’ll make it a whole lot easier to settle in.
“People like Nobes, who I’ve not played with for years, I’ve built up a relationship with from that Under-21 team. He’s obviously the boss man around here, and it’s always good to know the boss!
“I also know Michail Antonio, Cress and big Andy from England, obviously, and to be honest I know most of the lads from playing against them in the Premier League and internationally down the years.”
Speaking of England, Hart has started 43 of England’s last 45 competitive internationals, including all six 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F qualifiers.
With those statistics in mind, his performances for the Hammers will play a huge part in helping Hart continue that run into next summer’s finals in Russia – presuming England qualify.
While his Three Lions career is naturally hugely important to him, the Shropshire-born stopper knows international acclaim is the result of domestic success.
“I’m going to come and I’m going to give absolutely everything I can,” he confirmed. “I’m pleased that it’s sorted and all my focuses and all my energies are now with West Ham, to give everything I’ve got and try to improve every day and ultimately to do well for the Club.”
Hart is also relishing the prospect of working under West Ham manager Slaven Bilic – a coach the goalkeeper has observed since being part of just his fourth England squad for a World Cup qualifier in Croatia back in 2008.
A decade on, Bilic sold his vision for the Hammers to Hart in a series of conversations which helped convince England’s No1 to turn Claret and Blue.
“He was really good to me, as any manager who is trying to sign someone is going to be,” he told West Ham TV. “I think he realises I bring a lot of experience, similar to one of the reasons he brought Pablo in, as we’ve done special things in the Premier League.
“He realises I love football and I just want to play fight every day and I see that in him, so hopefully that combination will work well together and we can do some good things.”