Joe is the Hart beat of City… and he'll only get better, hails old rival Given
12:08 GMT, 29 March 2012
Shay Given is certain former Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart will get better the more experience he gains.
It was Hart's emergence under Roberto Mancini that forced Given out of City last season, the Republic of Ireland star eventually joining Aston Villa.
The 24-year-old's reputation has grown even further since then. Indeed, man for man, Hart is arguably the most important player in the England squad given how much better he is than the alternatives for whoever ends up replacing Fabio Capello as manager on a permanent basis.
World class: Goalkeeper Joe Hart is crucial to Manchester City and England
But Given is certain that, good as Hart is now, he will be better for the exposure he receives in Poland and Ukraine next summer.
'Joe has done really well for the last four or five seasons,' said Given. 'He is at a fantastic club, with some of the best players in the world. And Joe is one of them.
'But the thing is, he is still very young. In goalkeeping terms he has got years ahead of him. This year he played in the Champions League, which he hasn't done before, and in the summer he will play in a European Championships, which he hadn't done before.
'That will help him improve. You can't buy experience and the more he plays the more he will gain.'
Given was speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, where he was promoting his sell-out Fashion Kicks event at Lancashire CCC on May 1.
Boy band Westlife will perform at the event, with Hart, Vincent Kompany, Darren Bent and Adam Johnson present to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Support.
'We get the players involved in a fashion show and I am taking them from different clubs this year to widen the appeal,' said Given. 'It is a bit of fun and hopefully we can raise some money.'
No room for two: Shay Given left City for Aston Villa due to Hart's emergence
Given also has to help Villa secure their top-flight status after a difficult season and then he also will be at Euro 2012 after the Republic ended their dismal run of play-off disasters.
The last of those setbacks came against France, when Thierry Henry's blatant handball helped to cost them a place at the 2010 World Cup.
As Given freely admits, that blow is something he will probably never get over, but he can soothe the memory this summer, even if progression from a group that contains Italy and holders Spain will not be easy to get out of.
'I won't have got over what happened in Paris another 20 years,' said Given. 'That was a huge disappointment and when we missed out on the World Cup a lot of people might have felt sorry for themselves.
Heading for glory: Hart will be England's No 1 at the Euro 2012 finals
'But we showed in that campaign we are a good team. And thankfully we had the belief to reach another major championships. But we are not happy with that. We want to give a good account of ourselves.
'The draw couldn't have been much tougher; Spain, Croatia and Italy. But we are looking forward. The whole country has been given a boost by us qualifying.'
And, as Given concedes, Ireland's status as underdogs suits them.
'We have always responded against the bigger nations in the past,' he said. 'This same group has been together for three or four years now and the bigger teams won't want to play against us because they know how hard we are to play against.'