I always preach to my players that being professional is less about how much money you make, and more about how you carry and conduct yourself.
England and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has found his professionalism questioned after being pictured drinking with teammates at a party in Scotland.
On the pitch, Hart has proved himself to be beyond reproach with a series of match-winning performances for City this season. But with Roberto Mancini imposing a strict regime of ultra-professionalism, Hart incurred the Italian manager’s wrath last month after being highlighted in newspaper photos pictured drinking with Manchester City teammates Shay Given, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson at a student party in Scotland.
Prior to that, Hart was caught on camera partying in Spain less than 48 hours before joining the England squad for October’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.
But Hart insists his professionalism cannot be questioned.
“I would never disrespect football because it is my livelihood,” Hart said. “I’ve always felt fine when I’ve turned up on a Saturday or on a Thursday or a Sunday, so in regards to that, professionally, I’ve been ready for every game.
“To be part of a club like Manchester City, you’ve got to be so professional on and off the field.
“I think realising that you can’t do what you want to do and can’t be involved in certain things will help me move forward.
“I don’t think you have to live like a monk. I just think you have to be a bit smart about how you do it. Maybe at my age, and not realising the position you are in, naivety comes into it a little bit, but you have to learn fast as a footballer.
“There are ways and means of enjoying yourself. There are places you should be and places you shouldn’t, and situations you should not be getting yourself into. But as long as you are ready and can answer that with a performance on Saturday or Sunday or whenever, that’s what you have to do.
“If you’re turning up to games and not feeling right, that’s when you’ve got to address the situation. But I’ve never missed a day of training and I pride myself on that.”
At the level that Hart is at, it is critical to be able to find a balance between what you do on the field and in how you conduct yourself off the field. For the future of both the English National team and Manchester City, hopefully Hart can grow into his role and responsibilities for club and country.