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Joe Hart must use his head to become world’s best, says Swedish goalkeeping legend Thomas Ravelli

Exclusive by Chris Bailey

Manchester City keeper Joe Hart must learn to focus on his own play if he wants to be the best in the world, insists Swedish goalkeeping legend hero Thomas Ravelli.

Ravelli is a Swedish football legend after amassing 143 caps and famously beating out two penalties in a quarter-final shootout against Romania at the 1994 World Cup in America.

And while the Swede is full of praise for the England stopper, he warned him of the potential pitfalls with his attitude in some games.

“I think he is better off concentrating on his own game rather than trying to put other players out of balance,” said Ravelli.

“There was an example in the European Championships with the penalty shoot-out (against Italy) and he lost all that because he didn’t concentrate on his own game.

“I had experience of that also when you’re yelling at refs and listening to the spectators – you lose your concentration.”

However, the Swede is a fan of Hart, and believes the more experience he gathers, the better the former Birmingham City loanee will become.

“Hart is one of the best five, six, seven goalkeepers in the world,” said Ravelli.

“He’s struggled quite a bit in a few games this season and has made some mistakes for England, but he’s a young guy and he’s developing.

“He has the potential to be the best in the world but he also has to mature a little bit and channel his aggression in a better way.

“That’s where he needs to learn and he could become a much better goalkeeper if he does this.”

At Manchester United, Ravelli is all too aware that the spectres of past United greats – particularly Peter Schmeichel – cast a shadow on David De Gea as he tries to cement a first-team berth at Old Trafford.

Save for one season in America, the 53-year-old’s career never took him outside his homeland, but he believes any young goalkeeper needs time to mature into a position where experience is key.

“De Gea has got a long way to go before reaching the level of players like Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar but he’s what, 22?,” said Ravelli, who picked up nine domestic titles with Oster and IFK Gothenburg.

“Schmeichel was at his best at 30 so he’s still a very young guy. I think he had problems with his eyesight – he needs to wear lenses – but he is still a good goalkeeper with potential to be much better.

“And in the case of his trouble in the air it is not easy to catch balls from out wide, especially nowadays as crosses are more like hard shots across the box aimed towards the forwards.

“One thing that helped me was that I played a lot of basketball when I was younger – when I was 18 I could jump to reach over two metres, so you have to practice a lot of different games in your life to become a better goalkeeper.”

Image courtesy of the FA, via YouTube, with thanks

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