Heaton: I got the Ferguson hairdryder treatment for leaving Man Utd!
Tom Heaton says leaving Manchester United was the best decision he has made in his career, even though he suffered the Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment as a result.
The Burnley goalkeeper was United's number three when they won the Champions League in 2008, but opted not to renew his contract at Old Trafford, subsequently going on a further four loan spells before ultimately leaving permanently in 2010.
Ferguson was unhappy with Heaton when the shot stopper broke the news, but he does not regret his choice after spells at Cardiff City and Bristol City eventually led to his impressive rise with Burnley, which has earned him England international recognition.
"I can understand it from his point of view," Heaton told Sky Sports of his dressing down from Ferguson.
"He had me in the office to talk about a new contract and obviously I had decided it was time for me to go.
"He wasn't best pleased at that moment in time.
"I had been there 13 years or so and I was walking out of the door on a free. The time and effort they had put in, I could understand it, but as ever, I have got so much respect for him.
"I always felt I needed to go and earn the stripes really. I always felt I was going to be good enough, I just wanted to go and get the experience, the practical experience, and at that point I didn't have it.
"That was probably the best decision I made. It was my decision. I stand by the decision, it was a tough one to make, with it being Manchester United having signed there as an 11-year-old."
Heaton, who will be in goal when Burnley host United in the Premier League on Sunday, was relieved when Ferguson eventually cooled down over his decision.
"He had me back in the office about a month later, and he said he respected my decision, which meant a lot to me," said the 31-year-old.
"I have seen him a few times since and he has been there for me, I have spoken to him, and I still stand up a little bit straighter when he walks past, that doesn't leave you!"
Heaton is relishing the prospect of welcoming United to Turf Moor, where 14th-placed Burnley have picked up 32 of their 36 points this season.
"Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and whenever you are playing against them it is exciting," he said.
"We are in a good position with five games left and who knows how many points it will take to be safe.
"Sunday is another opportunity for us. We are at home - a tough place for anyone to come to this year."