Speaking after Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Chelsea, Joe Hart said simply that it was ‘nice to make a few saves and help get a result for the team at an important time of the season’.
But the straight-talking goalkeeper was vastly underplaying the role he played in securing a deserved point at Stamford Bridge.
Put simply, without Hart’s heroics between the sticks, West Ham United would have lost.
After seeing Eden Hazard and Willian fire shots narrowly wide and Alvaro Morata have the first of two ‘goals’ correctly ruled out for offside, the 30-year-old was called into action for the first time on 35 minutes.
A slick move involving Hazard and Morata, ended with Willian bearing down on the West Ham goal, but Hart denied the Brazilian with a superb save with his outstretched left foot, diverting the ball over the crossbar.
The stopper admitted to being ‘disappointed’ that Chelsea scored a ‘sloppy’ goal from the resulting corner, but he could not be held accountable for Cesar Azpilicueta’s scrambled opener.
Into the second half and Spaniard Morata had a second strike ruled out by the assistant referee before Chicharito levelled the scores from Marko Arnautovic’s pass to give West Ham something to cling onto.
And cling onto it they did thanks in the main to Hart, who took to the air to make a spectacular one-handed save to help Marcos Alonso’s rasping shot over the top.
With time running out and both teams throwing men forward in search of a late winner, the England international was called into action thrice more in the closing stages.
First, he was in the right place to smother Hazard’s low shot. Then, with two minutes of the 90 remaining, his excellent footwork allowed Hart to scramble across his goalmouth and tip Olivier Giroud’s goal-bound header onto the post and out for a corner.
Hart’s fifth and final save, in the second minute of added time was his most comfortable, as Gary Cahill’s looping header from a Cesc Fabregas cross fell into his grateful grasp.
In his post-match interview, the on-loan Manchester City man said his late save from Giroud (pictured, above) was his pick of the quintet.
“The last one was my favourite,” he told his former City teammate Joleon Lescott on BBC Radio 5 Live. “The earlier ones, I didn’t really know much about, but with Giroud coming on, you know what’s coming because he is so strong and can hold anyone off and win headers and they’ve gone past me before.
“I remember when we lost 2-0 against Arsenal [with Manchester City in January 2015], so it was nice to get a little touch on it.”
Hart was keen to share the limelight with the likes of Arnautovic and Chicharito, but those outside the Club did not hold back in their praise for the two-time Premier League champion.
Former England midfielder Jamie Redknapp in The Star, ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Garth Crooks for BBC Sport, the Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt, ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti and talkSPORT all named Hart in their Premier League Team of the Weekend.
With England manager Gareth Southgate among the spectators at Stamford Bridge, a more meaningful endorsement could follow in the shape of a place in the Three Lions’ 2018 FIFA World Cup squad.