Hart wants to be ‘rock’ that England build on

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Joe Hart has set his sights on being England’s “rock” at the European Championship but admitted he had a long way to go to match the country’s goalkeeping greats.

Despite having only 18 caps to his name and never playing at a major finals, Manchester City star Hart is already being compared to Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, as well as his hero, David Seaman.

Hart, who will make his finals debut in Monday’s Euro 2012 Group D opener against France, said: “People get wrapped up in the moment and comparisons are easily made. I’ve got a long way to go to get anywhere near those two goalkeepers that you just mentioned. I’m on my journey as a goalkeeper. I’ve got 18 caps and I want to improve on that at every opportunity, first and foremost being on Monday against France.

“I’m just looking forward to building something and being that rock that England need.”

Hart understandably had not seen a great deal of Banks’ performances but was well aware of “the save” against Brazil at the 1970 World Cup.

He was much better acquainted with childhood idols Peter Schmeichel and Seaman, although he had yet to meet the former England and Arsenal star.

“I always pester Patrick Vieira about him – he played a lot of years with him,” said Hart, who is arguably his country’s first undisputed number one since Seaman retired.

The man who won his first Barclays Premier League title this season added: “It’s not a case of, ‘I am great, I am untouchable’.

“It’s just that I know what I can do, I know what I am required to do and I enjoy doing it.”