England goalkeeper Joe Hart believes being too pumped up might have contributed to his Euro 2016 nightmare as he continues a fresh chapter at club and international level.
Hart was noticeably animated pre-match as England went about their ill-fated bid for glory in France but mistakes that led to goals in the 2-1 win over Wales and – more damagingly – the 2-1 last-16 loss to minnows Iceland left a bitter taste for the two-time Premier League winner.
The 29-year-old reached that pinnacle of the English game with Manchester City, where he was a long-serving crowd favourite.
But a sapping close-season continued when incoming City manager Pep Guardiola decided Hart did not fit his requirements for a goalkeeper, prompting a loan adventure to Serie A side Torino.
Reflecting on a tumultuous few months, Hart cut a measured and becalmed figure speaking ahead of England’s friendly encounter with Spain at Wembley on Tuesday – traits he suggested he will seek to take onto the field from now on.
“I am always trying to learn and adapt,” he said. “Obviously the Euros wasn’t my finest hour. I needed to have a think about how I played and what I did, and maybe change a few things – speaking to the people that count, seeking advice.”
Interim England boss Gareth Southgate is among those from whom Hart has sought guidance.
“Gareth and I spoke about it,” he said. “You find a way. I’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of passion. Questionably it could have been too much.
“There are ways of channelling that. I am constantly evolving, constantly trying to be the best I can be, and learning from things that didn’t go too well is definitely a way of doing that.”
Hart will return to Italy after the match with the small matter of a Turin derby against champions Juventus coming up next month, along with further lessons from an Italian teacher and additional linguistic pointers from his team-mates.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. It wasn’t a situation that I planned, it wasn’t months in the planning,” said Hart, who explained Sinisa Mihajlovic’s tactical approach was similar to those of the Italian school he experienced under Roberto Mancini at City and Fabio Capello with England.
“Ideally I wanted to stay where I was, but that wasn’t a possibility, so I wanted to go abroad and try something new.
“I look around and see in all our top teams in England, they’ve got players from everywhere, from absolutely all over. So I thought ‘why not me, why can’t I be that guy in the dressing room?'”
The Torino faithful certainly seem to have taken a shine to Hart, with a small number of them travelling to Wembley last Friday to witness his fourth clean sheet in as many World Cup qualifiers as Scotland were dispatched 3-0.
“I was really focused [on the game] but then I started to hear them. It was a nice feeling,” he said.
“It’s a special effort. I applaud anyone who comes to a football game, given the finances – it’s not an easy thing to do. Especially to travel across and it’s not even to see your own country. So I was really appreciative.”
Hart’s name still resonates with the City faithful, especially in light of Claudio Bravo’s erratic performances since replacing him as number one, but he insisted he cannot be focused on events at the Etihad Stadium during this rehabilitative campaign.
“I’m a Torino player for this season,” he added. “I’ve got two years on my contract after this season. It’s difficult to look too far ahead of that and, without passing the buck, it’s not really my responsibility to think about.
“The City fans have always been fantastic to me and showed me a lot of support and it’s a club I will always hold dear to my heart.”
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