TOM Heaton admits games against Manchester United remain ‘special’ to him as he prepares to welcome his former club to Turf Moor.
The Clarets captain will face United for the fourth time with Burnley on Sunday and although the novelty of games against the club where he came through the ranks is wearing off, the 31-year-old said they remain special occasions.
And he will hope to produce another memorable display against the Red Devils having made 11 saves at Old Trafford in October when the Clarets secured a memorable point against Jose Mourinho’s side with a stellar defensive display.
“It’s another good game at Turf Moor, we’ve made it a really tough place to go, and hopefully we can do that again,” Heaton said of a place where Burnley have already won 10 Premier League games this season.
“I left United a while ago now so there have been quite a few games but it’s always still a special one and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The goalless draw at Old Trafford was Burnley’s first away point of the season.
But it had an element of fortune about it, with Heaton in inspired form as United hit 38 shots without scoring.
Heaton’s highlight was a stunning star jump save to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic that drew comparisons with United goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel.
“I was obviously pleased with it but I reiterate all the time that the lads were in the trenches that day,” the Burnley captain said.
“I know that save got highlighted but in fairness there were multiple blocks and it was a backs to the wall team performance. Those are my memories of the game.”
A Sky Sports poll on the save of the season so far has Heaton’s stop to deny Ibrahimovic leading the way ahead of efforts from Simon Mignolet, Jordan Pickford, Victor Valdes and Lee Grant.
But such has been Heaton’s showreel of saves this season that he doesn’t even rate it as his best, having made a stunning stop to keep out a Charlie Austin header at Southampton earlier in the season.
“It’s probably not if I’m honest,” Heaton said when asked if the Ibrahimovic save was his best of the campaign.
“It’s probably the Austin save. I actually quite liked the Rondon save at West Brom but it’s difficult to choose that one when you’re 3-0 down at half-time. It’s probably the Austin one, it’s certainly up there. Don’t get me wrong, the United one is potentially a big one as well.”
United arrive at Turf Moor on Sunday on a 22-game unbeaten league run, but that has included 10 draws and hasn’t yet been enough to move them into the top four.
“They are moving things forward, they’re quietly going about their business and they’ve secured some excellent results. I think they’re just building for future,” Heaton said of his former club.
“When United come to town it’s always a big game but we’ll focus on ourselves as ever and put preparations in place.”