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Heaton has a warm feeling again

PUBLISHED: 17:36 02 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:40 24 August 2010

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

By Ben Kosky HOW many footballers would choose a second round Carling Cup tie in a near-deserted stadium over the thrill and buzz of a Champions League final? Not many, perhaps – but Tom Heaton would, having made his QPR debut against Accrington Stanley i

By Ben Kosky

HOW many footballers would choose a second round Carling Cup tie in a near-deserted stadium over the thrill and buzz of a Champions League final?

Not many, perhaps - but Tom Heaton would, having made his QPR debut against Accrington Stanley in front of 5,000 people last week and turned in a match-winning performance.

It might not have born much resemblance to Heaton's trip to Moscow just over a year ago, when he was part of the Manchester United squad that beat Chelsea to become champions of the continent.

But the young goalkeeper, who is on loan at Loftus Road until the middle of November, would much prefer to face Accrington than turn out for the Red Devils' reserves.

"When you're in a first-team game it's only the result that counts and it means a lot more," Heaton told the Times. "You're playing for the manager, the fans and your livelihood.

"You learn a lot from playing in the reserves at United because they pass the ball and play the right way, but all you're doing is improving yourself and the actual result doesn't matter.

"I was in the squad for the Champions League final in Moscow and that was a fantastic experience, but I'm 23 now. People might say that's young for a goalkeeper, but it comes to a stage where you need to be playing.

"So it was nice to get out on the pitch against Accrington - that's what I came here for and I was quite happy with my performance until the last 10 minutes, when a few things started to creep in.

"We didn't play as well as we're capable of, but once we scored I thought we were much better. And I ended the night holding a bottle of champagne, so I can't complain!

"I had a lot of respect for Radek Cerny before I came to QPR and that's only gone up in the last few weeks - he's a fantastic keeper and a very good guy. But I've come here to try and get into the team and stay there."

Cerny reclaimed the number one spot for last Saturday's league victory at Scunthorpe, but Heaton is determined to push him, especially after being a first-team regular throughout the first half of last season.

Heaton was Cardiff's number one choice until injury cost him his place and Peter Enckelman took over until late in the campaign, when the Bluebirds' defeat at Sheffield Wednesday - coupled with Rangers' loss against Preston - meant they slid out of the top six on the final day.

"Not getting into the play-offs was a massive disappointment," Heaton recalled. "But you learn a lot from experiences like that and hopefully I'll benefit next time I'm in that situation.

"But it was great to be involved with a team pushing for promotion last season and when I came down to QPR I knew this was a team that would be aiming to try and win the league."

Another factor in luring the keeper to Loftus Road was the opportunity to rejoin David Rouse, who coached him during his formative years in United's Academy.

Heaton has been on the books at Old Trafford since he was a schoolboy but, with his contract due to expire next summer, he needs to make an impression at Rangers to have a chance of following in Ben Foster's footsteps.

Foster was loaned out on several occasions to Watford before returning to Old Trafford, where Edwin Van der Sar's wrist injury has given him a chance to stake his claim as United's number one.

"I worked with Rousey for a long time, probably about four years," added Heaton. "He was absolutely pivotal in my development and I was sad to see him leave United.

"Once I knew QPR were interested, I jumped at the chance to work with him again. I want to improve myself, to develop and put in the extra work and I feel he shares the belief that I can do that.


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