Scotland under-21 keeper Cieran Slicker has opened up on his admiration of former England number one Joe Hart, admitting the ex Manchester City star was his hero as a kid and taking advice on board from the veteran Englishman.
Hart, now at Celtic, was first-choice for the Auld Enemy at a number of major tournaments and picked up 75 caps for his country, with Slicker getting to watch him up close thanks to his role as a ballboy for Man City.
“Joe Hart was my hero growing up. When I was younger I was a ballboy at City too so I used to watch him up close.
“I tried picking up as much as I could.
“Over the past few years, I have spoken to him quite a lot. I was lucky enough to be able to be in a position to speak to him. Joe is a great guy and a great goalkeeper as well with a great career behind him.
“His advice to me was to try and play as many first team games as I could and to never give up. He told me to try and get first team exposure and that’s what I am looking to do now.
“For me, playing for Scotland Under 21s is the equivalent of playing at first team level.
“And I have also played for City in the Football League Trophy against teams in English League One and Two and that exposure has been great for me.
“I’m just trying to get as much first team football under my belt as possible.
The young keeper was at fault in the midweek defeat by Denmark when he let an effort from distance slip through him but the Man City youngster is confident Scotland’s hopes of reaching the Euro Under-21 Championship for the first time since 1996 are still very much a live.
While h admits it was a “tough one” to take, he’s already moved on and focusing on what is next for club and country, setting his sights on six points from the Tannadice double-header with Belgium and Kazakhstan next month, adding: “It was a tough one. The ball went across one of our players and I lost it for a second. That was the annoying part.
“I still feel like I should have saved it. It’s cost us, but I think I learned from it.
“As a team, I think there’s a lot of positives to take from the game. The next two games at home are massive for us and if we can get as many points out of the six as we can then that would be good.
“It was all about forgetting about the goal for me. It was done when it went in and I couldn’t have done anything about it after it went in.
“I thought I did all right for the rest of the game. But I know for a keeper it’s all about that one moment.
“It is what it is and we move on.”
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