Burnley’s Tom Heaton: ‘It got heated for a minute or two with Alex Ferguson’
Tom Heaton knew the meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson was unlikely to go well and so, at least, he was not disappointed. It was towards the end of the 2009-10 season and the Burnley and England goalkeeper, who was then in his 13th year at Manchester United, had reached a decision. He would be leaving the club that summer.
Ferguson had wanted him to sign a new contract and had told him the offer was there. But Heaton had turned 24 and he needed regular football. There was a further factor in play, something that would shape the dynamic sharply. Heaton was at the end of his deal and he would leave Old Trafford as a free agent. And so, there he was, about to break the news to Ferguson.
Heaton’s recollections are heavy on understatement. “He was pretty short with me,” he says, before adding: “It got heated for a minute or two.” It is a scene that is easy to imagine and given the legendary nature of Ferguson’s rages, to embellish to varying degrees.
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“I understood,” Heaton says. “I’d spent an awful long time at the club, I joined them at 11 and, after everything they’d put into me, I was walking out of the door as a Bosman free transfer. I wasn’t looking forward to that meeting, if I’m being honest. But, deep down, I knew it was the right canada goose coat 1000 bulbs lamps decision.”
Ferguson did too can i wash my canada goose jacket and a few weeks later he had Heaton back in the office. “He said he was always there for me, if I ever needed him,” Heaton says. “He respected my decision and he understood it. That was incredible for me to hear. Every time I have seen him since – you stand up straight and it’s: ‘Hi, boss. How you doing?’ You never lose that factor. But he’s always been brilliant. He sent me a few messages when I got into the England squad.
“I never made a competitive appearance for United but I travelled as the No3 and I got on the bench 20, 25 times for the first team. I was in and around it at that level but I knew I wanted to be a No1. It was always a risk. But I think getting into the Premier League two years ago with Burnley justified the decision.”
Heaton is back in the big time, after he and Burnley bounced straight back from their relegation in 2015 as last season’s Championship winners and the club captain cannot hide the excitement. There is a buzz in the old Lancashire mill town, which has endured tough times, and the 1-0 defeat at home to Swansea City on the opening weekend has not dampened it. Liverpool are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon.
“The football club really is the heartbeat of the town,” Heaton says. “You drive along and one in two people have a Burnley shirt on. My dad was born in Burnley and he was a Burnley fan growing up, and his dad was a Burnley fan, too. I was born in Chester but having had that family connection – and I’ve still got a few relatives here – I was aware of how big the club canada goose coat 1000 calorie meal plans was. Still, when I signed three years ago, it opened my eyes.
“It’s fantastic to have a tightknit community that is so connected to the football club. In this day and age of the Premier League, which is a global brand, there is a real core in the town. You can almost feel the passion and positivity from the fans. They really get behind the players.”
Heaton had two seasons at Cardiff City and one at Bristol City after leaving Old Trafford and at Burnley he has yo-yoed up, down and back up from the Championship. It has been a wild ride but the club’s values, as preached by the manager, Sean Dyche, are set in stone.
“The manager often talks about the minimum requirement, which is to give everything you’ve got for the shirt and that message has got out click over here,” Heaton says. “The fans have seen it over the last few years. If you see someone giving everything they’ve got for the shirt, you can get behind it. That’s been a key factor, certainly in my time.
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“I don’t have an awful lot of knowledge about the town’s economic situation but one thing I would say is that having best canada goose jacket for skiing Premier League football back helps. It puts it on the map. Everyone is aware of it, worldwide, so that should give it a boost in itself. There really is a good buzz about the football club and it gives everyone a lift.”
Dyche has been in charge since October 2012 and in the Premier League there are only two managers who have been in jobs for longer – Arsène Wenger and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, who was Dyche’s predecessor at Burnley. The watchwords of his tenure have been relentlessness, inclusion, hard work and discipline, and Heaton sees similarities between him and Ferguson.
“Certainly, on the man-management side of things, there are things that are similar,” Heaton says. “I’m relatively sure that he [Dyche] has quite a good relationship with the boss and the way he is, I’d imagine he likes to take a bit from people he comes across.
“In my experience with Ferguson, he was firm but he was always fair. He was very approachable. You could talk to him, you could have a laugh but if you ever crossed that line, he’d let you know. That would certainly be a similarity here [with Dyche]. We have fantastic relationships at the club, massive respect but you know that if you step out of line, he will be the first to tell you.”
Heaton is asked the hypothetical question about how he would feel about telling Dyche he was leaving the club on a average price for a canada goose jacket free transfer. “I’m sure he would give me both barrels,” Heaton says, with a wry smile.
Heaton was one of the reserve goalkeepers in Roy Hodgson’s England squad at Euro 2016 and his journey to the top can be described as circuitous. During his time at United he had loan periods at Swindon Town, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff, Queens Park Rangers, Rochdale and Wycombe Wanderers, and he is part of can you wash a canada goose jacket in the washer the select band to have played in all four divisions of English football. His experience of League Two came at Rochdale in 2009-10, while he remembers the stint at Swindon in 2005-06 with particular fondness.
“Andy King took me there as a 19-year-old and I got my first league experience in League One,” Heaton says. “I’m so grateful to him now, thinking back. It’s tough to get that opening but he took a risk on me. On some days it was good and on others, it was not so good. You’ve just got to go through that.”
The lot of a young goalkeeper, particularly at a top club, can seem thankless. They work and they work but the breakthrough can resemble a dot on the horizon. At United, Ferguson was never going to drop Edwin van der Sar and when the Dutchman was unavailable in 2009-10, for example, there was Ben Foster or Tomasz Kuszczak to come in.
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“It’s a funny one, the goalkeeping position,” Heaton says. “It’s not like centre-forward, where a young lad might be given, say, 10 minutes. Marcus Rashford at United is a prime example. You give him a taste and he does unbelievably well. You give him a bit more, and look at him now.
“You can’t really do that with a goalkeeper. It’s a position where you take less risks because any slight issue causes a problem. There is no substitute for going through those days when you’ll be chucking it in and at the top level, you just can’t afford that.
“You have to go and gain that experience, go through those things and I was aware of that. I had that desire to play – what I would call earning a career.”
Heaton’s form for Burnley earned him the recognition at senior England level. He made his debut as a late substitute in the pre-Euro 2016 warm-up against Australia and although it was, to use his words, “six minutes and two touches”, it meant everything to him.
“The really disappointing thing about the finals was that everything was in place,” Heaton says. “I actually thought the performances in the group games were really good and if you had asked me two hours before the Iceland defeat, I’d have said: ‘We’re going a long way here.’ For whatever reason, it just didn’t happen. But on a personal note, the experience was absolutely brilliant and having had that taste, it just makes me want more. I’ve got a real hunger and ambition to step on.”
His priority is to help Burnley retain their hard-won Premier League status. During the relegation season in 2014‑15, they started slowly but in the final reckoning they were only five points off survival. Dyche has found the summer transfer market tough but he did add a midfielder, Steven best ideas about canada goose outlet on pinterest Defour, from Anderlecht, for a club record £8m earlier in the week.
“We are stronger than last time, we have got more experience and more strength in depth,” Heaton says. “But it’s important to make those things count. We all know it’s going to be a tough challenge but it’s one that we are going to embrace and we’ll see where that takes us.”