Tom Heaton once sent Alex Ferguson into a rage for rejecting Man United contract

Tom Heaton United

The veteran goalkeeper has rejoined Manchester United on a free transfer.

Tom Heaton has returned to his first professional club as the 35-year-old put pen to paper on a two-year deal with Man United.

The goalkeeper was announced as United’s latest addition on Friday, having left Aston Villa upon the expiry of his contract.

Heaton never made an appearance for United during his first spell on the Red Devils’ books as he was sent on loan to a number of clubs in the mid-2000s to earn experience.

Tom Heaton returns to Man United

Returning at the age of 35, Heaton will be under no illusions about the role that is expected of him at United as he will likely act as third-choice goalkeeper behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson, with Sergio Romero expected to leave the club. Lee Grant has extended his deal at United.

With his return to Old Trafford confirmed, it’s perhaps worth remembering the career-defining moment that prompted Heaton to let former United manager Alex Ferguson know that he wouldn’t be signing a new contract at the club in 2010.

Ferguson reacted furiously to Heaton’s plan, which saw the ‘keeper join Cardiff City on a permanent deal, although the pair patched things up before Heaton left United.

“It was, how do you say, an interesting moment. I ­understood his point of view. I’d been there since I was a kid. He was offering me a new contract and I was turning it down,” Heaton told The Star in 2019.

“He wasn’t best pleased! So, I was on the end of it a bit. I totally understood it because they had invested a lot of time in me.

“But I knew what was right for me. It was a risk, but it was one I wanted to take. I walked out of his office with my tail between my legs. It needed to be done. It was the right decision. I knew that and I never wavered from it.

“In fairness – and I always say this ­because it’s important to me – two or three weeks down the line, he called me back into his office, and said, ‘I will always be there for you, whenever you need me. I respect your decision’. That meant the world to me.”

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