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Joe Hart - England's Stopper

England's number one starts another major tournament today

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

In a few hours time, Joe Hart will begin his third successive major tournament wearing the number one shirt for England. Hart's position hasn't been under threat since he was elevated to the starting keeper's position in 2010. His consistency and leadership are one of the reasons optimism has trumped the traditional fatalism when considering England's hopes entering Euro 2016.

The era in-between David Seman and Joe Hart was one where England cycled through keepers. But after the 2010 FIFA World Cup where Rob Green made a classic England blunder against the United States and the non-qualification for the Euro 2008 tournament thanks in large measure to Scott Carson's blunder in the final qualifier against Group Winners Croatia, England needed a consistent number one.

Hart was elevated to the number one shirt following the 2010 World Cup and has proven a safe pair of hands for England since. Hart's breakthrough 2009-10 season on loan at Birmingham City convinced both Fabio Capello, then England Manager and Roberto Mancini who was leading the Citizens at the time that Hart was  a worthy number one.

Mancini had assumed the Manchester City job in December 2009 when Mark Hughes was sent packing and had immediately been told by Sven-Göran Eriksson who had managed Hart in the 2007-08 season at Eastlands that he was an elite keeper. But Hughes had sent Hart out on loan preferring his own signing, Shay Given to the Englishman leaving Mancini hamstrung without his best keeper until summer.

What has happened since is that Hart has led Manchester City to five major trophies in six seasons and started every competitive match for England since the conclusion of the 2010 World Cup with just two exceptions.

Hart's critics among Manchester City fans who question his distribution and his positioning have been largely drowned out and outnumbered by those who appreciate his skills and leadership. At the national team level he has become the single most indispensable player for Roy Hodgson and the Three Lions.

Today. Hart begins what will perhaps be a march toward England glory against Russia at 9pm BST.