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'Winning these Euros not just down to having the best players'

Joe Hart's BBC Sport column
[BBC Sport]

What next? That's the question I’ve been asked a lot since I announced earlier this year that I would be retiring, and especially since I played my final game for Celtic a couple of weeks ago.

I haven't taken any coaching badges, which was a deliberate decision. For some people, coaching or managing is the obvious option when they stop playing, but it is not something that has ever been ingrained in me.

I still want to give something back, though. I am not a goalkeeper anymore but I love to talk about the art of goalkeeping, as well as how it has changed so much in my time - and how it keeps on evolving.

I'm going to be doing that quite a lot in the next few weeks while I'm working for the BBC at Euro 2024 and I can't wait to get started.

'Giving a goalkeeper's perspective'

Joe Hart in training with England in 2016
Hart played 75 times for England between 2008 and 2017. Peter Shilton, with 125 caps, is the only goalkeeper to have played more games for the Three Lions [Getty Images]

The reason I wanted to get into punditry is to educate people who are interested in goalkeeping, and hopefully I can help people understand the position a bit better.

I'll be trying my best to do that by giving a goalkeeper's perspective, which can be very different to that of an outfield player. Sometimes when a goal goes in, the analysis you see on TV is about how the keeper should have done better, or has made a mistake.

That can be the case, of course, and I am not here to protect goalkeepers from criticism, but part of the way I analysed my own performances during my career was to work out exactly why things happened.

There is often a lot more to a goal than might first appear and I want to try to explore and explain that, and all the different variables that can affect the goalkeeper - from the positions they take up and how they work with their defenders, to the movement of the ball and everything else that is happening in front of them.

These are things that might seem simple but they really aren't - and I am willing to go into that detail.

I'll be learning new things myself too, including how to be a pundit - I fully understand I am not going to be brilliant at it to start with.

It feels weird to be described or introduced as a former goalkeeper, because I have only just left a trade that I was working in as a professional for more than 20 years - I made my senior debut for Shrewsbury Town in April 2004, when I was 17.

Although I went to four major finals with England, being on this side of things at a tournament is all new to me.

In the past I have just been focused on myself, and what I needed to do as a goalkeeper, rather than finding out very much about other players from other teams we weren't up against. But as I've said, I am not a goalie anymore, so I am looking forward to that changing when I am in Germany.

I am going to listen to everyone around me, make the most of their experience and take in as much as possible - I am open-minded, open-eyed and looking forward to everything the next few weeks might bring.

‘England have what it takes’

One of the reasons I am so excited about for this tournament is I believe England have a great chance of winning it.

I know a lot of our players well from my time with the squad, especially some of the defenders - Kyle Walker and John Stones regularly played in front of me at international level - and I've known Kieran Trippier since we were teenagers at Manchester City.

They are top-class players who will have a huge say in how we do this time. I am looking forward to watching them from a personal point of view, but also to assess them from a professional viewpoint, to see how much they have grown since I was last with them.

I played under Gareth Southgate too, and I feel like his confidence has increased a lot since my time with the squad, when he had just stepped up from the Under-21s to take the England job on an interim basis.

He's had success at the past two tournaments, reaching the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup and then the final at the last European Championship, and it also seems like everyone loves playing under him, which is so important.

For everything that is talked about by people outside the squad, it is what happens in the camp that really matters and Gareth has built an environment where they will feel safe and will be very focused.

It looks like the manager and players understand each other and what it takes to go the distance, so they will be able to put themselves in the best position to execute all the planning and hard work that they have already put in.

‘I want my Scottish pals to do well’

Joe Hart and Celtic captain Callum McGregor
Callum McGregor is one of Hart's old Celtic team-mates in the Scotland squad. The pair won the double together this season. [Getty Images]

England are definitely good enough to go all the way in Germany - if you look at all the squads, then along with France we are incredibly strong - but I know what goes into winning a tournament and it is not quite as simple as just having the best players, so we will have to see how it plays out.

I'll be watching Scotland closely too, of course, because of my old team-mates from Celtic who are in their team. How Scotland do doesn't bother me, but I want my pals to do well.

I've got personal connections with players from lots of other teams at these Euros too, and it's the same for all of them. Ultimately they are my friends and I want what is best for them, no matter what country they are from.

In the past I had to face my mates at tournaments and try to get the better of them, so what will be quite refreshing this time is that I won't have to put those friendships aside.

I'm not on the pitch this time, so it doesn't matter what I do. Instead I can just be happy for my pals to be out there on the biggest stage, and fingers crossed they will perform.

Joe Hart was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.