Hart unafraid despite death threats during last Manchester derby
Published 22:55 07/01/12 By Simon Mullock
Joe Hart won’t be afraid to take his life in his own hands today – despite receiving death threats during the last Manchester derby.
The England No.1 ran the gauntlet of a humiliated Stretford End in October as City ran riot with five second-half goals to thrash United 6-1.
As Hart celebrated with James Milner after the final whistle a television microphone picked up him telling team-mate: “I was getting death threats the whole of the second half.”
It was the biggest derby-day mauling in Manchester since the Blues had racked up the same scoreline on the same Old Trafford turf 85 years earlier.
And with almost 6,000 Reds set to pack the South Stand of the Etihad Stadium as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men look for some FA Cup revenge today, Hart is braced for more of the same bitter bile.
Hart said: “Oh yeah, I get abuse off rival fans everywhere I go, whether it’s playing football or just walking down the street.
“But for me it’s all part of the fun. I don’t think anyone means the things they say. That’s football and that’s why I love it.
“As you would expect, some of the things the United fans were saying when we beat them weren’t very complimentary.
“But it’s a fact of life that people can say what they want when they go to a football match. In a derby they are going to vent their anger.
“I’d be angry as well if my team was losing 6-1 to their local rivals and because we were defending the Stretford End for the second half it was me who was always going to get it.
“I just accept that it is all part of my job as a goalkeeper.
“It’s quite interesting to hear what people are saying – even if some of the insults can get a bit crazy.
“But I don’t take these things personally. It’s football.”
Hart added: “Being stood in front of the Stretford End during that second half was amazing. It was a great day for the team and the club. I didn’t have a lot to do apart from watch the lads keep scoring.
“We played really well and watching from the other end was an absolute privilege. We created a lot of chances – and we took most of them. To win 6-1 at Old Trafford in a derby was special – but it could have been even more.”
Hart has once again proved to have the safest hands in the Premier League, with Roberto Mancini boasting the meanest defence as well as the most prolific attack.
Across town at Old Trafford, though, Ferguson must again decide whether to put goalkeepers David De Gea or Anders Lindegaard in City’s firing line.
Hart has no time for the goalkeepers’ union when it comes down to the business of winning a derby.
He said: “What United do has nothing to do with me. When Edwin van der Sar retired he left big shoes to fill and although I might sound selfish and rude, I’m not interested in what’s happening over there.
“I remember when Roberto Mancini had a decision to make when it was between me and Shay Given.
“Luckily he chose to go with me, but that’s gone now and I don’t think about it. As a goalkeeper you are either in or out. At one point I was out and Shay was in, so I went to Birmingham on loan.
“When I came back I was in the team and I love this club and love being here. Shay is a great keeper and a great person. I still speak to him because I look up to the guy massively. But luckily I got the chance to play for City and I am so focused that I don’t care about how things are going for the United keepers.”
Hart added: “The Manchester rivalry is great. I love it because it makes the games between City and United what they are.
“I had a bit of banter with Wayne Rooney after he scored ‘that’ goal against me – the magnificent overhead kick that came off his shin!
“But that was between me and him. I’m not interested in taunting people. I’m just here to win.”