Short but sweet as Heaton makes history
The Burnley skipper became the first Turf Moor man to play for the Three Lions in more than 40 years when replaced Fraser Forster for the final three minutes of the 2-1 win over Australia at the Stadium of Light on Friday night as Roy Hodgson’s side continued their build-up for Euro 2016.
Not since Martin Dobson picked up his fourth cap against Yugoslavia in June 1974 has a Claret played for the full England side, but the 30-year-old created history when he finally got his chance against Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos.
The title-winning goalkeeper said: “I’m delighted, I’m very pleased to get on and get a cap. It’s been a long hard journey for me.
“Roy has a lot of tough decisions to make, I knew it was a possibility I would get a cap.
“It was incredible. A big, big moment. I felt ready for it, I’ve been with the team for a year or so now.
“It’s a nice challenge. Everyone faces challenges and mine was having to wait but I embrace that. It’s a dream come true.
“There is an incredible environment here. Joe Hart was waiting for me when I came off the pitch.”
Heaton, who has previous international experience from Under 16 to Under 21 level, earned his first call up in May last year for the friendly with the Republic of Ireland and Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia, and has been named in subsequent squads.
The former Manchester United youngster was then named in Hodgson’s 26-strong provisional Euro 2016 squad and is set to make the trip to France as third choice behind Manchester City’s Hart and Southampton’s Forster.
Despite being expected to get his chance on Friday night Heaton, who kept 20 clean sheets as Burnley were promoted to the Premier League last term, was made to wait, replacing Forster in the 87th minute.
Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford saw his fairytale season continue by becoming the youngest player to score on his England debut after just three minutes.
Wayne Rooney doulbed the Three Lions’ advantage 10 minutes into the second half with an Eric Dier own goal 15 minutes from time ensuring it wasn’t a straight forward finale for Hodgson’s side as they prevailed 2-1.
England have one finally warm-up game before heading out to the tournament with Portugal the opponents at Wembley this Thursday, June 2.
At Euro 2016 Group B will see England take on Russia on June 11, Wales on June 16 and Slovakia on June 20.
• One Clarets player who won’t be heading to Euro 2016 is Danny Lafferty, the left back having been omitted from Northern Ireland’s final squad.
Burnley-born Oliver Norwood, of Reading, did however make the final cut.
Boss Michael O’Neill cited the fact that Lafferty was out on loan at Oldham, rather than playing first team football for the Clarets, as the reason for his omission.
He said: “He was a little bit unfortunate in that he was on loan at Oldham and the best chance you have of being involved is to be playing first-team football.”
“He had played virtually no first-team football in the first half of the season at Burnley, he’d had a few injuries and then he got the chance to go out on loan, was doing well, but his club called him back as cover and he ended up then when he didn’t play.
“Again, he was in that situation where he wasn’t involved in first-team football.
“Lee (Hodson) took the decision to go to Kilmarnock, he pushed his manager to get out on loan and we had watched Lee consistently not only play at right-back, but also at left-back, so it was the versatility that we saw in Lee that got him the nod over Michael Smith or Daniel Lafferty.”