Belfast Telegraph

James hails Hart as Europe's best

Former England goalkeeper David James believes successor Joe Hart is now Europe's number one.

James ended up being first choice at the last World Cup after Robert Green's howler against the United States, but his international career came to an end after the sorry last-16 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein, which proved to be his 53rd and final England appearance.

Hart took over immediately afterwards and has since gone on to prove why he is regarded as England's best current goalkeeper, and James said Hart is even better than Spain skipper Iker Casillas: "Joe's distribution is 10 times better than Casillas's."

James was briefly a team-mate of Hart's at Manchester City and then with England, and he added: "He makes all the saves, he takes all the crosses. He can do much more than Casillas.

"If Casillas was in the Premier League, he would struggle. Put him in Wolves' team. See how good he is then.

"Joe is head and shoulders above everyone else with England now and I would struggle to see a better goalkeeper in Europe."

James made 100 appearances for City between 2004 and 2006, when he left for Portsmouth.

Hart's low-key arrival from Shrewsbury coincided with James's decision to leave, but even then he could tell the former Worcestershire academy cricketer was destined for big things.

"He came to Manchester City just as I was leaving," James added. "He was good then and has got better.

"It is annoying because as his rival with England, I wanted a reason not to like him. But he is such a good guy and was part of everything we did. He has all the basic character and physical needs. He kicks the ball well, throws it well, makes saves. He has the whole package."

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