Tom Heaton says he was ‘surprised’ to be named Manchester United captain in draw vs Athletic Bilbao
Tom Heaton can now proudly say that he has captained Manchester United. Not a lot of players in the world can boast such a feat.
It did, however, come in a friendly draw against Athletic Bilbao on 6 August at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The Red Devils played against RC Lens the previous day at Old Trafford, recording a 3-1 win.
Hence, it made sense to completely rotate the team in a manner where the first-team stars aren’t exhausted and risked so close to the start of the season. Still, the likes of Victor Lindelof, Christian Eriksen, Harry Maguire and Donny van de Beek started the game.
It seems Erik ten Hag just doesn’t want Maguire to wear the armband again… on a serious note, it was probably a kind gesture made towards Heaton, who has been a familiar figure within the walls of Old Trafford in the 21st century.
Proud moment for Heaton
After the 1-1 draw, where the 37-year-old played the full 90 minutes, he told MUTV:
“[The captaincy was] a bit of a surprise I think. You know, I’m a temporary custodian for the day, but it’s still a proud day. It’s always an honour to captain Manchester United and I certainly enjoyed that today.”
Such gestures can often be seen as a parting gift but there isn’t anything concrete happening to suggest that Heaton could be on his way. There is no harm in having him as the team’s third goalkeeper for the season.
The Englishman has been here for a long, long time. He was on our books from 2002 to 2010 and then from 2021 until now, when he joined us from Aston Villa.
All these years of service here have only been enough to get the former Burnley goalkeeper just three senior appearances for Manchester United throughout his career. That is still three more than many goalkeepers who have come and gone in our esteemed academy over the years.
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He could retire at Manchester United, it seems, given his age and the fact that his contract runs out in June 2024 (Transfermarkt).