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Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart battled his emotions after securing a third cinch Premiership title with the club that “means everything” to him.

The 37-year-old former Manchester City player clinched the fifth league winners’ medal of his career with a clean sheet as Celtic thrashed Kilmarnock 5-0 at Rugby Park.

Hart announced his impending retirement in February, just after Celtic had lost top spot in the table to Rangers, although the decision had been taken some time beforehand.

The 75 times-capped England international was determined to finish on a high and Celtic stepped up a gear to go six points clear with one match to play.

And he still has the chance to make it a perfect swansong in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final against Rangers on May 25.

Speaking to Celtic TV, Hart said: “This is everything. What a season, what a tough season. Stuck together, decided I was going to call it a day, didn’t know if people would understand what I was trying to say when I was saying it.

“But it means absolutely everything to be stood here with these guys.

“I love being at this club, I have loved every minute of it, and we are here to win trophies.”

Hart could not articulate his feelings for the Celtic support.

“I can’t and I won’t,” he said. “I can’t talk about how much this means to me and my family, this place. It means everything.

“It’s touched me so deep down in my heart. I will hopefully be comfortable talking about it soon but I don’t want to be blubbering on a football pitch.”

Hart’s leadership has been vital for Celtic throughout a strong challenge from Rangers while another experienced player, James Forrest, has come to the fore in recent weeks.

The 32-year-old scored his seventh goal of the season after re-establishing himself as a key player despite not featuring at all between Christmas and mid-March.

James Forrest
James Forrest netted the third goal at Kilmarnock (Jane Barlow/PA)

The winger has now joined Lisbon Lions captain Billy McNeill in claiming 23 major honours for the club, only two behind club record holder Bobby Lennox.

“It’s unbelievable,” Forrest said.

“I don’t take much to do with stats but it’s always great hearing it – you feel so much pride over it and once I have retired I will look back and it’s been an unbelievable experience here. Hopefully I can get more as well.

“Since I came back in the squad in March I feel the last couple of months have been really good. All the boys have just got better and better.”