There is so much love for Heaton's debut
Manchester United goalkeeper Tom Heaton made his senior debut for the club nearly 20 years on from first joining the Academy, during Wednesday night’s draw with Young Boys.
The 35-year-old’s evening started from the bench, as he watched a much-changed Reds side go in 1-1 at the break with the Swiss champions, in our sixth and final Champions League group-stage match.
Then, just after the hour mark, Tom got the opportunity that he has “been working a long time” for, as he was introduced for his United bow in front of over 75,000 fans inside Old Trafford.
He replaced Dean Henderson between the sticks, who embraced our veteran Academy graduate as he stepped onto the turf at the Theatre of Dreams for the inaugural time as a first-team player.
Heaton went on to play the final 30 minutes or so, as United took a point from our last Group F outing.
Having left the club in 2010 to play regular football at senior level elsewhere, Heaton returned home to his boyhood club at the start of this season.
Although his matchday opportunities have been limited thus far, there is no doubting the impact that his experience has already had behind the scenes, and how valued his character is within the dressing room.
That much was clear from his social-media accounts on Wednesday, when his fellow Reds commented on the above post to congratulate our 240th Academy graduate on his special evening.
Here is what has been said…
Dean Henderson: I love this guy!! Congratulations on the CL debut ❤️
Bruno Fernandes: You deserve big man 💪🏼
Donny van de Beek: Legend 💪❤️
Harry Maguire: Brilliant mate 👏
Anthony Martial: Yes bro 😍
Alex Telles: Tommm 🔥👏🏽🙌🏽
Diogo Dalot: Top guy ❤️
David De Gea: 😍
Scott McTominay: 😍
Juan Mata: 👏👏
Heaton, of course, wasn’t the only Academy-hailing Red to be celebrating a senior debut on Wednesday night, with youngsters Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal introduced in the closing stages.
Both also took to social media to mark the occasion with posts that you can see among our Reds' post-match reaction below…
First champions league match at OT!! Loved it!! Thanks for your support! 🔜🔛🔝 pic.twitter.com/TOVEHW65P4— Dean Henderson (@deanhenderson) December 8, 2021
What a night 🙌🏾— Teden Mengi (@TedenMengi) December 9, 2021
Champions league debut ✅
Glory to God always 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/oaPzmXZoXe
Delighted to have made my first team debut for @manchesterunited in the champions league. I would like to thank all the academy staff for their support over the last 14 years and the manager for putting his trust in me tonight ⚽️❤️ #mufc pic.twitter.com/ca5BuPT1KE— Charlie Savage (@charliesavage84) December 8, 2021
Unbelievable feeling to make my professional debut at Old Trafford. I have grown up supporting this club and to represent Manchester United in the Champions League is an incredible honour. This would not have been possible without the support of my family, friends and coaches.❤️ pic.twitter.com/vExlwtKUCe— zidane iqbal (@z10ane) December 9, 2021
Great night for the academy. Amazing to see so much young talent get a chance to shine. Congrats all. Debut in UCL, unreal @ManUtd ✨✨— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) December 8, 2021
Happy to qualify top of the group, european job done. We keep working and improving! ✅💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/eyGaSyofu0— Eric Bailly (@ericbailly24) December 8, 2021
Group Stage ✔️ Knockouts ⏳🔜 pic.twitter.com/BisFJ6Ii59— Donny van de Beek (@Donny_beek6) December 9, 2021