The former Red Devils goalkeeper was the star at Old Trafford to frustrate Jose Mourinho, while Mario Balotelli and Robin van Persie were in lethal form elsewhere in Europe.
Tom Heaton approached Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2009-10 season after 13 years at Manchester United and told him that he wanted to leave at the end of his contract. He has previously spoken about Ferguson’s “heated” reaction when informed that Heaton, at the club since he was 11 years old, had decided to give in.
Heaton had been in and around the first-team picture at Old Trafford without ever taking to the field for the seniors. He had to depart in order to fulfill his ambitions of becoming a Premier League goalkeeper and now he is well established as Burnley’s No. 1 — and a part of the England squad to boot.
He returned to Old Trafford on Saturday and haunted his old club in a defiant display from Burnley that earned his side a point. Heaton made 11 saves on the day — a joint-season-high across Europe’s top five leagues — including one scarcely believable stop from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic volley in the second half. The goalkeeper leapt at the ball in the manner of Peter Schmeichel and joked later that the shot nearly broke his arm.
At a time when United is good money after bad in the transfer market, it was an important reminder that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
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