Sir Alex Ferguson Raged At Manchester United Youngster For Rejecting New Contract
Heaton was in the youth and reserve ranks at United but never made a first-team appearance, instead having been loaned out to the likes of Swindon, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff, QPR, Rochdale and Wycombe.
In 2010, his current deal at Old Trafford was due to expire. United offered him a new contract but Heaton made the brave decision of rejecting it as he wanted to get first-team football elsewhere.
He ended up joining Cardiff permanently on a free transfer but Ferguson was furious.
“It was, how do you say, an interesting moment. I understood his point of view. I’d been there since I was a kid. He was offering me a new contract and I was turning it down,” Heaton recalled during an interview with The Star in 2019.
“He wasn’t best pleased! So, I was on the end of it a bit. I totally understood it because they had invested a lot of time in me.”
After the initial strong reaction, Fergie was then supportive of Heaton and said the shot-stopper could always count on him for any advice in the future.
Heaton added: “But I knew what was right for me. It was a risk, but it was one I wanted to take. I walked out of his office with my tail between my legs. It needed to be done. It was the right decision. I knew that and I never wavered from it.
“In fairness – and I always say this because it’s important to me – two or three weeks down the line, he called me back into his office, and said, ‘I will always be there for you, whenever you need me. I respect your decision’. That meant the world to me.”
Heaton, who has played in the Premier League with Burnley and Aston Villa as well as being capped three times by England, is set to return to United 11 years on after his departure.
Reports say the 35-year-old is to sign a contract for a second stint at the 13-time Premier League champions and he will become the club’s third-choice goalkeeper.