Delighted Heaton is living the dream

This Is Lancashire: Tom Heaton applauds the Burnley fans Tom Heaton applauds the Burnley fans

“INCREDIBLE...Fantastic...Brilliant!” There are not enough superlatives for goalkeeper Tom Heaton to describe what promotion to the Premier League means.

It is the level at which his career began, coming through the ranks at Manchester United.

When he left for good in search of first team football to go to Cardiff City after a number of loan spells elsewhere, he longed to get back.

But after suffering relegation to League One with Bristol City last season he could never have imagined it would come around so quickly.

What a difference a year makes.

Heaton was the busiest goalkeeper in the Championship as the Robins went down having shipped 84 goals from their 46 games.

Since being brought to Burnley on a free in the summer, he has been the quietest, with the Clarets boasting the meanest defence in the division.

“It’s incredible. It was a terrible feeling last year getting relegated. We conceded a lot of goals and it was tough,” he said.

“It just shows you that you never know what’s round the corner in football.

“If you keep your head down, keep working hard and try to make the right decisions – and thankfully it’s come right and I couldn’t be happier really. It’s just a fantastic day, difficult to put into words really, my best day by nothing short of a country mile.”

It is one that his family could revel in more than most, with his Burnley-born dad, David, a lifelong Clarets fan.

It made Heaton’s summer switch to Turf Moor a special moment. But the goalkeeper admitted there were other factors which blew him away.

“I’ve said all along from the moment I walked through the door we knew we had something special,” he said.

“I’d struggle to find a better team that I’ve played in for how we approach games and the mentality – once you get that going a little bit and you use that momentum, and with the manager you want to follow him into battle. We’ve sort of done that all year.

“A lot of teams I’ve played in have been tense and tentative and a little bit of pressure on the game, but there’s none of that, it goes out of the window. We just go all guns blazing from minute one, and we’ve thoroughly deserved it.”

It was fitting, too, that with 17 previous clean sheets clocked up in the Championship this season Heaton was able to add to that impressive tally on the day that Burnley went up.

“I think that’s 20 for the season in all competitions,” said the keeper, who has presided over 19 of them.

“It’s a magnificent feat, and I’m proud to be a part of it. The hunger and appetite that we showed on Monday to get the result and get to that next level, it sort of summed up the season, it’s fantastic.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and a dream come true really.

“We haven’t really coasted through, we’ve kept going throughout the whole season. It really is a pleasure to be a part of.”

Heaton, who is set for an Old Trafford return next season, albeit in the opposition camp, added: “I set out when I started playing football as a kid to play in the Premier League.

“When I left Manchester United a few years ago it was the aim to try to get back there. To get there it’s fantastic, just incredible.”

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