England keeper Joe Hart praised Leigh Griffiths’ technique after seeking out the Scotland striker to chat about his two sensational free-kicks in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.
The pair were seen in conversation in the immediate aftermath of a dramatic World Cup qualifier. And Hart revealed he was keen to congratulate his nemesis as well as pick his brains after two moments of magic from the Celtic striker had briefly put Scotland on course for a famous victory.
“I want to win and I’ll do anything for the cause, but when the game is done, sometimes you have to say ‘well done’ to someone,” said the goalkeeper, who is set to leave Manchester City this summer following a season on loan with Torino.
“That’s my personality, hate it or love it, that’s who I am, and I wanted to congratulate him. And I wanted to talk about it because I’m interested. I’m interested in his thought process. Football interests me. I also spoke to him about the previous match that we played at Wembley because he took a free-kick in the final minute and used a different technique.
“I’m prepared for anything and, at the end of the day, it’s a free shot from 25 yards. We train every day, but unfortunately it was his training that paid off. It might have helped for the first one if the wall had jumped, but it’s coulda, shoulda, woulda.”
Griffiths’ free-kicks were hit from similar positions around 25 yards out and he eluded Hart by putting them both in different corners. “As a goalkeeper, you set your wall up and sometimes there’s nothing you can do,” he said.
“I ask my wall to jump, but not excessively because people are clever now and they go underneath. I’ve seen it again and we would have needed four or five [Peter] Crouchys in that wall to make a difference, and that’s not what we had. Of course, we studied his free-kicks beforehand, but you have to say ‘well done’ sometimes and that was certainly the case here. He’s produced two bits of quality – they weren’t curlers, they were heavy. He put it over the wall and then they picked up pace. To do it twice in however many minutes after not really having a sniff the whole game, it was a big moment for him. I sat down straight away to watch them afterwards because I was interested to see what had gone on. I don’t know if you saw them again, but they were quick, and I see it at the same speed as you guys.”