MANUEL PELLEGRINI has fondly recalled working with Celtic keeper Joe Hart as the Real Betis boss gets set for Thursday’s Europa League game.
The Chilean was manager of Manchester City between 2013 and 2016 when the Hoops stopper was England number one and at the top of his game at the Etihad Stadium.
Pellegrini was impressed with Hart’s attitude when he lost his place to former Romania stopper Costel Pantilimon in the 2013/14 season before winning it back to help City end up Premier League champions.
Asked about 34-year-old Hart, who joined Ange Postecoglou’s side in the summer from Tottenham, he said: “I have many good memories because at that moment he was the England goalkeeper.
“We worked together for three years. We won the title. At some point for some reason, he had to go on the bench for three or four games, but he was working even from the bench.
“He increased the work and was talking with the goalkeeper who replaced him, trying to improve everything he did.
“At that moment he showed himself a team player. He was number one in England because he is a very good goalkeeper.
“He is a great person so I was very happy and fortunate to work with him during those years.”
Pellegrini insists he has “all the respect for Celtic – a great team” as he looks to get off to a winning start in their Group G fixture following their 2-1 LaLiga win over Granada on Monday.
The former River Plate, Real Madrid and West Ham United boss, among others, said: “We are prepared to play our best game here at home.
“For the first three points, they are very important to continue this competition.
“It is the merit of last year that we managed to qualify for European competition to be able to play in the Europa League.
“To have that mentality of getting used to being in two different competitions – we ended Monday with a good victory against Granada – and now we have to prepare ourselves mentally in trying to qualify for the next stage in this Europa League with our performances on the field.”