Tom Heaton replaces Dean Henderson

Heaton delighted after long-awaited United debut

Thursday 09 December 2021 00:05

Manchester United goalkeeper Tom Heaton made his first-team debut in our UEFA Champions League match against Young Boys.

The 35-year-old goalkeeper made his long-awaited first appearance for the Reds as he came on as a second-half substitute for Dean Henderson in the 65th minute. Our no.22 was met with a great ovation from the home crowd as he went between the United sticks for the first time.  

Heaton spent his Academy days with the Reds before leaving the club in 2010, going on to become a Premier League goalkeeper for both Burnley and Aston Villa before returning to his boyhood side this summer.

Speaking to MUTV's Stewart Gardner post-match, there was no hiding that our former Academy player was a proud man.

"Great," he answered when asked about how it felt to make his debut.

"You know, the idea of me coming back here was to strive to get into the team. Tonight has been the first opportunity at that. I was hoping it was going to come early but I’ve been working for a long time for this moment and it was great to be out there tonight."

As mentioned, United fans applauded Heaton as he stepped on the Old Trafford grass for the first time in a completive game as a Reds player, and our no.22 certainly enjoyed the ovation from the supporters. The goalkeeper also had family and friends watching his debut and now Heaton wants to strive to impress Rangnick even more in order to get further opportunities. 

"It felt great. You know, playing at Old Trafford in front of a capacity crowd, you know, it was always going to be a great feeling," he said.

"Having come here as a visitor, I’ve always enjoyed it, but today, to wear the home shirt, my first competitive debut was obviously a brilliant moment. I loved every minute of it. But yeah, you cross the white line, the focus is obviously on doing the job. Once that’s sort of settled down. Now I have just and appetite for more. You know, I felt great and I want to kick on from here."

Heaton first joined Reds as a trainee all the way back in 2002. 19 years later, he can proudly said he has played for United on what has been a rather unusually long way to make his first appearance for the club. 

"Signing as an 11-year-old, you know, coming all the way through... I’ve been on the bench quite a few times, played a few friendlies, loan spells and I made the right decision to leave to go and play," he said. 

"Every move I made since then was to go and play. Coming back here, that didn’t change and I know I have to be patient and there’s a fantastic goalkeeping department. David’s been outstanding this year, Dean’s obviously a top goalkeeper as well, Lee Grant, Matej Kovar, you know, it's a top department. But yeah, for me, the drive is playing, I’ve said that all the way through and that hasn’t changed. I’ve been working day in, day out as I say and it’s a first marker for me tonight and I certainly want more of it."

Report: United 1 Young Boys 1 article

Read all about Ralf Rangnick's second match as interim manager, in our final Champions League group-stage match.

As well as Heaton, youngsters Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage made their first-team debuts and our goalkeeper also went on to address how special Wednesday night was for them as well. The 35-year-old believes they have great futures ahead of them. 

"That’s exactly right, a few of the boys probably didn’t know until yesterday that they were going to be involved," he told MUTV.

"Obviously, they come to the game, make their Champions League debut... There’s a few 17, 18-year-olds in there. I spoke to Zidane and Sav on the bench, I think they’re born in 2003, so yeah, it’s interesting one… It’s a fantastic experience for them. I played with them a couple of weeks ago for the Under-23s to get 90 minutes and I really enjoyed it then. I thought they approached the game really well and deserved their opportunity tonight.

"Obviously, Teden [Mengi] as well. So yeah, good night all round. You know, 90 minutes for a few players will be very beneficial as well, so yeah, now we go into Saturday."

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