Celtic are currently reaping the rewards following their decision to sign goalkeeper Joe Hart last year, with the resurgent 35-year-old having gone on to prove an integral figure in last season’s title success under Ange Postecoglou.
The former Manchester City colossus has racked up 31 clean sheets from his 63 appearances for the Parkhead outfit thus far, having enjoyed a real revival following a difficult last few seasons after falling by the wayside for both club and country.
Prior to the veteran’s arrival, however, the Hoops could well have landed another Englishman in the form of Dean Henderson, with the current Nottingham Forest man having been linked with a move to Glasgow almost two years ago, prior to the January 2021 window.
A move to join the Scottish Premiership side had been mooted with the impressive ‘keeper having struggled to dislodge David de Gea at parent club Manchester United, following what had been a promising two-year stint on loan at Sheffield United, where he was dubbed an “insane” talent by teammate Sander Berge.
Speaking at the time, pundit Alex McLeish had given his backing to the move, stating: “Yeah, he’s quite special. From the footage I saw of him from the whole of last season he was at a fabulous level.
“His team actually had a great season built on the back of some fantastic work by him. That’s what they say about a goalkeeper, they can save you, a good club goalie, 10 points a season, an international goalie 15 points a season, a world-class goalie, 20-odd points a season.
“These are the numbers that these goalkeepers, along with the coaches, strive to make and that, for me, would be a very strong statement.”
As it proved, however, no temporary departure came to fruition as the Whitehaven-born star stayed on at Old Trafford, eventually ending the 2020/21 campaign ahead of the aforementioned De Gea in the pecking order, making 26 appearances in all competitions.
The 6 foot 2 brute would likely have retained his place in the Red Devils’ starting ranks for the following season had it not been for a Covid-19 setback, with his lack of game time subsequently seeing him join Forest on loan over the summer.
Prior to that move to the City Ground, there had been talk that Newcastle United were potentially interested in a £40m swoop for the 25-year-old, with that a marker of the calibre of player that Celtic have missed out on.
The current campaign has seen the £100k-per-week man impress despite a difficult few weeks for Steve Cooper’s newly-promoted outfit, saving penalties from Declan Rice and Harry Kane already this term.
The goalkeeping “machine” – as dubbed by one source – also proved his quality during his stint at Bramall Lane, notably recording 13 clean sheets for the Blades in the top tier during the 2019/20 campaign, with that the fourth-best record in the division.
A player with full confidence in his own ability, Henderson could well have solved the goalkeeping woes at Celtic Park prior to Hart’s arrival, with the club having been left with £4.5m flop Vasilis Barkas and reserve stopper Scott Bain in the sticks during the 2020/21 season.
Although it would have likely only been a loan swoop, the one-cap gem’s arrival in Scotland would no doubt have been a major boost, particularly amid the turmoil surrounding Neil Lennon’s final season in charge as the club finished 25 points behind rivals Rangers.
In truth, it was something of a nightmare not managing to secure the Englishman’s signing.