Hart was contemplating a season sat on the bench watching Shay Given at City until McLeish stepped in to take the keeper on a year-long loan at Birmingham.
The move paid off handsomely, both for the progressive St Andrew's outfit and Hart, whose outstanding performances throughout an impressive season saw him muscle his way into the group of three keepers named in Fabio Capello's 30-man provisional squad.
"I owe a lot to Birmingham for giving me the opportunity to go and play there," Hart told the FA's official website.
"Options were limited at Manchester City and Alex McLeish gave me a big chance to go and show what I could do.
"Fabio Capello made it very clear that you had to be playing regularly to stand a chance of being involved with England, so what happened at Birmingham is 100 per cent why I'm here."