Thomas David Heaton (born 15 April 1986) is an English professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Aston Villa and the English national team.
He began his professional career with Manchester United but was unable to break into the first team and spent time on loan with Swindon Town, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers, Rochdale and Wycombe Wanderers, before joining Cardiff permanently after his release by Manchester United in July 2010. He then joined Bristol City on a one-year deal with an option of a second year but turned it down in May 2013 in favour of a move to Burnley, whom he has represented in the Premier League.
Formerly an international from under-16 to under-21 level, Heaton has been involved in senior England squads since 2015, finally making his senior England debut against Australia on 27 May 2016 in a Euro 2016 warm up fixture.
Born in Chester, Cheshire, Heaton began his football career with Wrexham, for whom he played both in goal and in midfield, but, after making 20 appearances for the Manchester United Under-17 side in the previous two seasons, he signed for United as a trainee on 8 July 2002. He became a regular in the Under-17 side during the 2002–03 season, and picked up an FA Youth Cup winner's medal despite playing second fiddle to Luke Steele throughout the entire competition. He made his first appearance in the reserve team the following season, starting in a 3–1 home win over Birmingham City in the Premier Reserve League on 2 October 2003. At the end of the 2003–04 season, Heaton was named on the bench for the final of the Manchester Senior Cup against Manchester City, and won a winner's medal despite not taking the field.
By the 2004–05 season, Heaton had become the first-choice goalkeeper for the Manchester United reserve team, and was named on the bench for Stan Ternent's testimonial on 17 August 2004, coming on as a 76th-minute substitute for Luke Steele after Steele had earlier come on for Tim Howard. With Heaton in goal for 17 of the 28 Premier Reserve League North matches and 12 of the 22 Central League matches, the team went on to win both league titles by nine and five points respectively.
Heaton's form for the reserves resulted in him being loaned out to Swindon Town at the start of the 2005–06, initially until 1 January 2006. During his time at Swindon, he played over 20 games, saving a penalty on his debut, and was described as "one for the future" by manager Iffy Onuora. He returned to Manchester United, but, after the recall of Ritchie Jones from Royal Antwerp, Heaton was sent there for the rest of the season after United rebuffed an approach from Huddersfield Town.
Heaton spent the 2007–08 season with the first team squad at Manchester United, appearing on the bench when Edwin van der Sar was out due to injury.
Heaton joined Burnley in May 2013, after turning down a further one-year deal at Bristol City. His decision was to stay in the Championship, and Burnley offered Heaton a two-year contract attaching him to the club until June 2015, with an option of a third year.
On 24 August 2013, he was the recipient of a rare technical second caution for handling the ball once releasing it in his own area whilst playing against Brighton, a game they lost 2-0.
On 30 June 2015, Heaton signed a new three-year deal at the club, therefore keeping him there until the summer of 2018. Heaton was named as captain for the 2015–16 season, captaining the side for the first time on 8 August 2015, on the opening day of the 2015–16 Football League Championship season against Leeds United in a 1–1 draw.
Having played for England at various youth levels, Heaton was handed his England under-21 debut in March 2008 by manager Stuart Pearce when he replaced Joe Hart as a substitute during a match against Poland. However, he did not make the final squad for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
On 21 May 2015, Heaton was called up to the England senior team for the first time ahead of a friendly against the Republic of Ireland and a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match against Slovenia. Heaton continued to be included in Roy Hodgson's squads before finally making his debut as an 87th minute substitute in place of Fraser Forster in England's Euro 2016 warm up match against Australia at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.