Slaven Bilic believes English football is taking Joe Hart for granted.
The goalkeeper, England’s long-term first choice and on loan from Manchester City to West Ham, kept a clean sheet and was named man of the match in his most recent international appearance against Slovenia.
It is during the past 18 months, the most difficult of his career, that he has most often been questioned, starting with mistakes at Euro 2016 and continuing after being dropped by Pep Guardiola at City.
Most recently observers have questioned his value to West Ham and whether Jack Butland should replace him with England, but Bilic said: “I think you don’t appreciate him.
“You are asking me because you think you have a case. You are not asking why we don’t appreciate Harry Kane.
“I watched the game against Slovenia and he was man of the match.
“But you didn’t have that feeling from the studio, from the commentator, saying it was a penalty, it wasn’t a penalty.
“If it was anyone else goalkeeping in that situation nobody would say it was a penalty.
“Has he become an easy target? Yes. The guy is brilliant. I’m not just talking about goalkeeping now, the guy never slaughters anyone in the job, he is taking the bullets, he is there every single time whether he is at City or Torino or West Ham.
“He is a great professional and very interested in the squad. He is a top pro.”
Hart, having also become West Ham’s starting goalkeeper following the period of uncertainty that came when both Adrian and Darren Randolph vied for selection, will retain his place for Saturday’s trip to Burnley.
“I have a feeling – or he is hiding it – that he doesn’t give a… he puts himself above that situation,” Bilic added.
“I speak to him and everything but after the last couple of games all I have said is, ‘Good job’.
“When did he make a mistake? Tell me the game for England. Don’t go back to (last year’s loan spell at) Torino and say he conceded a goal against Chievo. When did he make a mistake for England?
“He was also man of the match in Slovenia when you drew – big time.
“Scotland..those (Leigh Griffiths) free-kicks? I’m saying ‘No’.
“Joe Hart is a great professional and long-term number one goalkeeper for England who in the Euros and in (the 2014 World Cup in) Brazil also I don’t remember many mistakes, and I do remember some great saves.
“I remember his commanding presence and I remember him being the same for ages at Man City.
“He came to West Ham and conceded 10 goals in the first three games. Then he kept clean sheets in the last three out of four.
“Yet there is always a question mark about him. He takes it very well.”