Cardiff capture Reds keeper Heaton
Posted by nickogs20 on June 15, 2010
Out-of-contract United goalkeeper Tom Heaton has agreed to join Cardiff City on a free transfer.
With his current contract expiring at the end of the month, the 24 year-old will end a ten-year association with the Reds when he joins the Bluebirds on July 1 and will be treading a familiar path, having spent the entire 2008/09 season in the Welsh capital. The former England Under-21 stopper made 21 appearances during a successful spell at Ninian Park and with Cardiff in need of reinforcements between the sticks after the departure of Peter Enckleman, manager Dave Jones has moved quickly to land proven competition for current number one David Marshall.
“I’m pleased that we have secured Tom’s services from Manchester United,” Jones told Cardiff’s official website. “We all know about the lad from his time on loan here and know that we have signed a very talented young player who can offer plenty of competition for Marshall in goal.”
While Jones also commented that Heaton had been offered a new deal by Sir Alex Ferguson, the Chester-born keeper’s Old Trafford exit has seemed inevitable for some time now. Frustrated at a lack of first-team opportunities, a permanent transfer looked to be in the offing last summer and, when that failed to materialise, a nomadic season followed with the United glovesman playing out the last year of his contract on loan at QPR, Rochdale and Wycombe Wanderers. Indeed, Heaton achieved the rare distinction of playing for sides in three of the English professional divisions over the course of a single campaign (while being contracted to a club in the other).
Tom signed trainee forms with the Reds in July 2002, having made a number of appearances for the club’s U17 side over the previous two years. In all he made 73 competitive appearances for United’s reserves and a further sixty at academy level, picking up an FA Youth Cup winners’ medal in 2003 and Reserve League North honours in 2005 and even scoring an unlikely goal after coming on as an outfield substitute in last summer’s second string friendly against Katwijk. A senior debut eluded him, although he did appear for the first-team in a number of friendlies and provided capable back-up when injuries opened up a slot on Sir Alex’s bench.
Now the new Cardiff City Stadium beckons and the chance to continue his development with one of the strongest sides in the second tier is a fine opportunity for a goalkeeper with time very much still on his side. Best of luck to Tom with his new club and future career.