Football is about routine for players.

When you’ve been in that cycle for 20 years, it’s little wonder a sizeable percentage of footballers struggle when it’s all over.

Joe Hart is preparing himself for some difficult moments when he retires from the beautiful game this summer. The 36-year-old – who turns 37 on April 19 this week – made the decision earlier this year that he would hang up his gloves at the end of the season.

The announcement came as a major shock, with the consensus held among many that he still has a few years left in the tank.

However, the Premier League title winner with Manchester City is adamant that the time is right to call time on his career in May, with someone else afforded the chance to become Celtic’s first-choice goalkeeper.

With the league and cup double the ambition for Celtic in the closing six weeks of the campaign, Hart knows he will let every single second on the pitch sink in until that final whistle goes.

“I think I’ll still be a player in my head for some time,” Hart said. “It’s going to take me a good while to come out of this mode.

“I’m in the mode now and I love being in the mode. I’m probably going to be a strange person for a couple of months, maybe even a couple of years, I don’t know. But I am a footballer, I am a Celtic player, and that’s all I feel and want to feel right now.

“People have asked me, and friends and family now it’s an important time in my life. But I literally have no opinion on how I feel. I feel the way I’ve always felt. I’ll just keep playing and pushing – and enjoying what I am doing.

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“It will be a big miss. But it’s someone else’s turn. I want to leave the place in as good a place as I possibly can. I’ve been lucky to be part of this. I don’t take it for granted. But it’s someone else’s turn.

“I will soak it up – but I’ve always soaked up every moment. Even when I was say on the bench at Burnley and West Ham. Those are moments in your life. The most important moments are now – and I have a job to do.

“I have said since I came up here and talked about potentially winning things. I’d love to sit down and say face to face how I feel at the end because it’s happened. Until then, I don’t know.”

It was posed to Hart that next weekend presents a nice opportunity to take a break from the rigours of league action, but the veteran goalkeeper refuted that suggestion.

It still hurts the former England No.1 that he and his teammates were put to the sword in the early rounds of the League Cup earlier this season. Marley Watkins scored the only goal of their last-16 tie with Kilmarnock at a sun-kissed Rugby Park in August last year.

Hart wants to win the double – as do all of the Celtic players – so, any notion that the challenge of Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-finals next week will be a refreshing change is wide of the mark.

He said: “This is a big week. We have the Scottish Cup and you don’t want any pressure off. It was hard not being involved in the League Cup, but we got beat fair and square at Killie and we had to move on.

“This is a completion we want to be involved in to the very end. We want to be there on May 25.

“It’s an incredible squad with everyone fit. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We have to be real.

“This is a high-intensity job and people get injured. We are doing everything we can to have as strong a squad as possible.”

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As much as Celtic’s destiny is in their own hands, things in football are rarely simple, certainly in Scotland, so the likelihood of twists and turns in the title race with Rangers is high.

St Mirren gave it as good as they got during the first half of Saturday’s eventual 3-0 victory for the Hoops. Stephen Robinson’s men settled into the match well and looked like a team playing with freedom having already achieved top six.

They passed it around well and were, at points, on top of their hosts. It wasn’t good enough from Brendan Rodgers’ side – Hart and his teammates knew that.

Reo Hatate got things going with a wonderful second-half strike with the outside of his right boot before two close-range headers from Kyogo and Adam Idah put some gloss on the three points.

Hart added: “We are going hard as we can in every single moment. This was our everything today. It was tough out there. I would just do anything for a still day to be able to play a bit of football. 

“The swirling winds first half were tough to get to grips with. Second half I thought we were superb, really, really good.

“This place, I swear, to still have the feeling like you’ve never won anything. The hunger we feel through the stadium is immense. 

“They understand their role and even when people show their discontent it’s not to bury us. It’s just to let us know the standard is constant and we felt it. I enjoyed it.

“Patience was really important and it was important we were aware that the first half probably wasn’t good enough. We are aware it wasn’t good enough but we know we can go up a level and keep going. 

“Even with us not playing well we put a lot of pressure on them and put a lot of hard work in to free up the space. 

“I thought the first two goals were exceptional, really important goals. Then Adam summed up the impact we got from the bench with a big performance.”