Saturday, January 19, 2008

38. Tom Heaton

keys: manchester united, Tom Heaton, Goalkeeper, Tom Heaton profile, Tom Heaton photos, pictures

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

Chester-born goalkeeper Tom Heaton has been decorated at youth and Reserve level for United, but is yet to make his first team bow.

An excellent shot stopper and always in full command of his penalty area, Tom is a reliable solid goalkeeper who has always shown great promise.

Heaton is also an excellent outfield player, having played as a goalkeeper and midfielder during his time at Wrexham before signing professionally at Old Trafford on 8 July 2002. Tom quickly set about ascending through the club's ranks - notching 22 appearances for Francisco Filho's Under-17s side as they came second in

their league.

Tom's debut season was capped by an FA Youth Cup winner's medal, although he was an unused substitute throughout the entire campaign with Luke Steele preferred in goal.

The 2003/04 season brought a similar climax, with Heaton on the bench as United romped to the Manchester Senior Cup final against Manchester City. Although he didn't appear in the win at Old Trafford, Tom had still made great progress throughout the season, notching 14 Under-19s appearances and eight Reserve starts.

Heaton stepped off the periphery of the second string during the 2004/05 season, however, and was first choice goalkeeper as Ricky Sbragia's side won the Quadruple. The demands of two leagues, two cup competitions and a play-off were huge, and Heaton made 36 appearances as United clinched everything except the Manchester Senior Cup.

The 2005/06 season saw Tom's progress somewhat impeded as loan spells at Swindon and Antwerp failed to yield the desired amount of action, and the 2006/07 campaign saw him back as the Reserves' first choice goalkeeper.

Heaton continued to perform solidly throughout the season as Brian McClair and Jim Ryan's side narrowly missed

out on a third successive FAPRL North title and were beaten in the final of the Manchester Senior Cup.

There was also the bonus of several unexpected brushes with first team involvement. Injuries to Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak saw Tom promoted to the senior substitute bench on eight occasions, although he was never called into action.

The position of young goalkeeper is one that requires much patience, a virtue that Heaton continues to display admirably.


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