Anytime a player faces his former club, there exists a certain edge and desire within the player to get one over on his former team — especially when said player was driven out of the club the way Joe Hart was done at Manchester City.
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Players and managers can — and typically do — say there’s no animosity and that they only have fond memories of those earlier days of their career, but, assuming that top-level athletes are indeed still humans, rarely should they be believed. Especially when that player is Joe Hart.
Alas, ahead of Hart’s clash with Man City on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold), Burnley manager Sean Dyche insists that Hart “has no point to prove” and that his first trip back to the Etihad Stadium after 12 years at the club will be just another outing in Hart’s 15-year career — quotes from the BBC:
“He has no point to prove. He just wants to get on with it.”
“I was pretty sure he was still a top-class keeper. There can be different reasons why you play well at some places and not others. Sometimes you just fit naturally. You can sense it.
“For keepers, sometimes what is in front of you helps. He wants a defensive unit he has faith with. I think there is a nice connection here. Possibly at other clubs he didn’t find that connection.
“But a lot of credit goes to him for finding his way again.”
Hart was welcomed back to the Etihad on Thursday, when a small ceremony was held to honor his return and a training field, bearing a mosaic of Hart from his time at the club, was named after him.