This is the one for Burnley's former Manchester United keeper Heaton

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

First published in Sport Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Burnley FC reporter

TOM Heaton does not have to be around Burnley to hear about the Clarets’ heroics the last time Manchester United were at Turf Moor; how Robbie Blake scored a wonder goal and goalkeeper Brian Jensen saved a penalty to win the game.

He has the recollections of his dad, David – a lifelong Claret – on tap for that.

But with Burnley looking for their first points in the Premier League five years on, Heaton feels it is a time for new heroes.

By their own admission Sean Dyche’s side have had a tough baptism on their return to the top flight.

Heaton describes opening up with a home game with Chelsea as being “chucked in at the deep end”.

With United next up at the Turf, it is sink or swim.

But like the pre-match Stone Roses classic that plays out at Old Trafford on matchdays, ‘This is the One’ Heaton has been waiting for.

“It’s certainly the one I first looked for when the fixtures came out, if I’m being honest,” said Heaton, a graduate of the so-called ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

The 28-year-old was on United’s books from the age of 11, progressing to trainee in 2002 and earning a professional deal in 2004.

He was contracted until 2010, during which time there were loan spells to Swindon, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff, QPR, Rochdale and Wycombe and two years as United’s ‘number three’ goalkeeper behind Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak.

He travelled with the squad to Champions League games, to the final in Moscow in 2008, where United beat Chelsea on penalties.

“It was great being involved, seeing how the top players work,” he said.

But his loan spells, in particular a full season at Cardiff City, had given him a taste of the first team.

He wanted more, and risked the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson by turning down new terms.

“I was ready to go and try new things, drop down and play some games, which was tough,” he said.

“Having signed there as an 11-year-old, I was 24 at the time, and on the Bosman there was no deal in place for me to go anywhere.

“I certainly felt at the time that it was the right thing to leave, play games, earn my stripes, and try and work my way back up.

“Obviously it was a risk, but one that I wanted to take. I didn’t want to spend time in the stands. I wanted to play games, earn my stripes and try to work my way back up. There’s no substitute for playing games, you learn the game, and that’s certainly the route I took. I’m pleased I did.

“I think I played 25 or 26 games in the Championship with Cardiff, and loved it – loved being the number one. I travelled with the squad in the Champions League, but you get to a point where you sort of want to be involved.

“I almost felt like a spectator.

“All the players were celebrating. You’re there, enjoying the moment, trying to take as much as you can, but inside I felt like I wanted to be out there playing.

“That was a big turning point.”

Heaton hopes today can be a turning point in Burnley’s season.

“Obviously we haven’t got any points on the board yet, which is the first thing we need to do, but there are things to build on,” he said. “There’s certainly enough to take forward, certainly a belief among the players.”

United, also without a win under new manager Louis van Gaal and – like Burnley – knocked out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night, have broken the British transfer record to try to solve their early season problems.

The £59.7m spent on signing Angel di Maria from Real Madrid is more than the combined figure of Burnley’s incomings in the club’s history.

Dimitar Berbatov was the most expensive signing, at £30.75m, during Heaton’s time at the club.

He is not surprised that figure has almost doubled four years since he left.

“In today’s game you have to pay big fees for top quality. That’s just the nature of the beast. So I can understand it really,” said Heaton.

Does that concern a club like the more modestly assembled Clarets?

“You try not to put too much thought into it,” he continued.

“I think the club (Burnley) have gone about it in the right manner, trying to do it where they’re not stretching themselves to the point where it doesn’t balance. I think that’s the best way to do it.

“We’re here, we’re good enough to be here, and we can get at teams.

“I had a big affiliation with them (United). I’m looking forward to it, but the important thing is that the performance is right and the focus is in the right place, and that’ll certainly be the case in the build-up. I’ll probably allow myself an hour after the game to enjoy it, hopefully. If we get the right result.”

Top transfer fees during Heaton’s time at Old Trafford: Michael Carrick (Spurs) £18.6m, Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) £17m, Anderson (Porto) £27m, Nani (Sporting Lisbon) £25.5m, Carlos Tevez (West Ham) £25.m, Dimitar Berbatov (Spurs) £30.75m, Antonio Valencia (Wigan) £16m.

Comments (1)

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11:03am Sat 30 Aug 14

AnotherPounding4Burnley says...

I wish you luck as you get peppered from all directions. An England cap will surely follow for the busiest keeper in the division.
I wish you luck as you get peppered from all directions. An England cap will surely follow for the busiest keeper in the division. AnotherPounding4Burnley
  • Score: -10

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