Tom Heaton.

Facing Ronaldo's free-kicks - then and now

Friday 10 September 2021 10:00

Tom Heaton is well placed to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo as the only member of the current first-team squad who was here when the Portugal international first joined Manchester United.

Back in those days, the keeper was coming through the ranks and still very much learning the game.

He feels he was handed valuable experience that has stood him in good stead throughout his successful career from training with Ronaldo and often being the man charged with staring down the barrel at his free-kicks as the forward worked tirelessly on developing his set-piece technique.

Tom Heaton describes what it's like facing Ronaldo's power shooting!

In Tom's eyes, Ronaldo is even better now but he hopes to be better equipped to keep out those thunderbolts at Carrington after linking up again with our new no.7.

"I remember the power of his shot, I can tell you that!" Heaton laughed when asked to recall working with Cristiano first time around. “I was in a position where I did an awful lot of his shooting drills and the free-kicks he wanted to do after training. When I was a young lad, I was hanging about after training and was usually the one who was sent over.

“Edwin van der Sar’s work had finished and Tomas Kuszczak was doing something else with the lads so I tended to do a lot of the shooting practice, which was great for me at the time.

“I do remember picking the ball out of the net quite a few times so hopefully I can change that now in training.”

It must have been some eye-opener for a rookie keeper still learning his trade and maybe fearing stepping up to the Premier League was going to be difficult if Ronaldo's laser-like free-kicks were going to be the norm.

“It was!” admitted our first summer signing. “It was brilliant for me as a young lad. I remember working with Ruud van Nistelrooy on the shooting drills and he was one of the best, probably the best finisher I have ever worked with. You are getting to understand how they do it and how they go about it. It probably helped me massively in my career and has done that.

“Yeah, we’re only a few days in so far, but you can obviously see the quality has certainly not left him [laughs]. I think probably there is more there so it’s going to be interesting. [Have you more experience so can keep out those shots now?] That is the plan!”