It was Wednesday the 3rd of October and City fans streamed out of the Etihad thinking they had a man between the sticks who would last a lifetime.
Mario Balotelli had just scored from the penalty spot as City held Borussia Dortmund to a one-all draw. Yet the hero in sky blue wasn’t the charismatic Italian that night, it was a certain Joe Hart. Number one for both club and country, Hart was only twenty-five at the time and thought his stay in East Manchester would be eternal.
Yet on Saturday, the Englishman will be back at the place he called home and most City fans will be there to give him a warm return.
Hart’s story isn’t a Colin Bell return to Maine Road back in the 1970’s, however, there will most certainly be feelings of joy from the fans all around the ground.
Having seen Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure receive more than fitting send-offs, the now Burnley and visiting goalkeeper will feel he most certainly deserves his own.
Joe Hart made more man of the match performances than most during his twelve-year stay at the club. Dortmund in the Champions League was no exception as the former Shrewsbury man became a firm fans favourite.
Dropped by Mark Hughes, brought back by Mancini. Yet it took a Catalan to firmly stick the boot in. Called out for his distribution, called out for his feet, Guardiola took no chances and sent Hart on his merry way.
After two less than wonderful loan spells at Torino and more recently West Ham, Joe Hart returns still to City as a hero, especially with the fans who respected all he did.
His last proper appearance for the Citizens was against Steaua Bucharest now two years ago as Captain for City. ‘Stand up if you love Joe Hart sang the fans’.
His return to the side this summer just didn’t feel right. Now the Club on a whole have the chance to say a proper farewell to the player they thought would never leave.