England success down to hard work not pizza, says Hart
KRAKOW, June 21 – England’s unbeaten passage to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals has had nothing to do with the players enjoying “seeing nice statues or going for a pizza,” goalkeeper Joe Hart said today.
Dismissing a popular notion that a more enlightened and relaxed approach under new manager Roy Hodgson was responsible for their success, the 25-year-old goalkeeper (picture) said it was down to the players’ ambition and old-fashioned hard work rather than the historic surroundings or beautiful architecture of Krakow.
“I think we started well with the right idea and the right kind of game plans for each game. I think we’ve executed them well,” he told a news conference.
“Regardless of what some people thought that was nothing to do with the camp. We are here to play football and to play well as a team.
“Maybe it is more relaxed this time but I think this has been taken out of context. The main thing is that we are playing well as a team and that is why we’re here – it’s nothing to do with seeing a nice statue or going for a pizza or being with someone you want to be with.
“It’s because we are getting the training right, we are understanding the manager’s methods and we are learning to do our own jobs.”
In a forceful if veiled jibe at sections of the English media, which had written off England’s chances before the tournament, Hart stressed that the players would only be prepared to leave after they had given everything they have got.
He made it clear that the squad would not be satisfied with a last-eight exit, if they lose to Italy in Kiev on Sunday, adding with some strength of feeling that they were not playing to satisfy their media critics.
“The whole point in coming here is not to keep people happy and off our backs,” he said. “We are here to win. We are not those guys (who settle for a last eight exit). We are winners.
“We want to be successful for ourselves and make English people proud of their team. We would like to leave here having given everything.
“Whether that makes people happy or keeps people off our backs, whatever... Just as long as we know we have given everything.”
Hart added that he would willingly take a penalty in a shootout.
“If they let me,” he said. “I would put my name forward 100 per cent. But, hopefully, it won’t come to that... I would back myself in a tournament.”
England are serial losers in penalty shootouts at major tournaments having been eliminated that way by Germany at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996, by Argentina at the 1998 World Cup and by Portugal at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
Hart said the squad had practised spot-kicks regularly and he possibly more than any of the outfield players.
“I do like to take my penalties,” he said.
As a goalkeeper, he said he studied videos of opponents’ penalties before each match.
“I do my research,” he added. “I know where all the Italian players put their penalties.
“But anyone in this room can do that... You just go to youtube and ‘click’...”
Hart was concise when asked about Italy.
“Italy have a very good team, with a very good history and they are good team regardless of who they put out but we don’t fear them. We don’t fear anyone.” – Reuters