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The Toe Poke

James: Hart the world's best keeper

Former England No. 1 David James believes there is no better goalkeeper in the world today than Joe Hart.

Hart, 25, has established himself as first-choice for club and country over the past two years, with the Manchester City keeper replacing James between the posts for England after the 2010 World Cup.

The former Shrewsbury Town man was named in the Premier League Team of the Season in 2011-12 and has emerged as one of the most highly rated keepers in Europe.

Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon and Real Madrid's Iker Casillas, the latter of whom won his third successive major tournament as Spain captain at Euro 2012, are widely regarded as the world's best at present but veteran James - who has played more than 1,000 games in his career - believes Hart is even better.

"I watch a lot of European football, and I can't think of a keeper who's impressed me more [than Hart]," James said. "For example, Iker Casillas has amazing reflexes, but he has trouble with crosses and he's average with the ball at his feet.

"Gianluigi Buffon is excellent at stopping mid-range shots and at positioning himself, but his kicking game is not what it should be. Joe, meanwhile, is good at all these things, which makes him the most complete keeper playing at present."

Asked who he regarded as the best keeper in the world, James said: "For years, Buffon was my favourite, but now it's Joe Hart. I think that Gianluigi is still an extraordinary goalie, but he's had a lot of injuries and that has caused his level to drop somewhat."


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