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Analysis: Ray Clemence on Tom Heaton

Posted on 31 March 2017  - 12:15

Ray Clemence remembers a talented young goalkeeper coming through the internatonal ranks when he was England's goalkeeping coach back in the early 2000s.

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"He came into the squads very early and it was clear back them he had huge ability," recalled Ray, who held that prestigious role between 1996-2007.

That goalkeeper was Burnley's Tom Heaton who, now 30, has racked up more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season (110) and is a regular in the senior England squad with two full caps to his name.

It's Heaton who we will have to beat at Turf Moor on Saturday and here, Ray, who played 330 times for us between 1981-87, gives us this insight to Burnley's number one.

Below: Heaton on England duty with Joe Hart last week

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Early days

Ray: "I first saw Tom when I was coaching the England goalkeepers and he came into the squad very early. He was in the Under-16s and the thing I remember most about him was a game against Germany at the old Filbert Street. He came out for a cross and got smashed in the face, broke his cheekbone and had to be carried off. It took him a while to recover from that, but look at him now. It was clear when he trained with us that he had huge ability and talent and we all hoped he’d go on and develop but he’s had to be patient. He had that injury which set him back, he was at Manchester United and it was obviously difficult to break through there but he had enough character about him to go out on loan to different places knowing he might just find a permanent home. It took him a while to get to that home but in the last few years he’s proved what a capable goalkeeper he is and realised the potential he showed when he was 16."

Below: Heaton keeps Raheem Sterling at bay at City

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A strong character

Ray: "That’s something all goalkeepers need because of the criticism that comes with the job and he’s proved that throughout his career. That’s not just on the field, he’s showed his character off the field as well to get to where he is because it’s not been easy for him. He’s been loaned out, sent back and gone out again and eventually he went to Cardiff (2010), did exceptionally well and then ended up at Burnley (2013).

Below: Ray in the 1987 FA Cup Final

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Saves that change games

Ray: "As well as that character and he’s an excellent shot stopper. People always say to me ‘all goalkeepers should have that’ but Tom makes saves that change games, saves at vital times. He’s a good organiser as well and that’s why he’s captain of Burnley. He has all the attributes, his distribution is also excellent and he’s a major part of why Burnley are in the position they are in, knowing if they continue winning their home games they will stay in the Premier League. They’ve been fantastic at Turf Moor. If you look at Tom’s stats, okay, he’s had more to do than most, but he’s made more saves per shots faced in the league and that’s testament to him."