Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has established quite the reputation for himself throughout his career. Since joining the club in 2007, he has more than 100 clean sheets for the Toffees.
In 2014 playing for the United States, he broke the record for most saves in a World Cup match with 15, a performance that sparked worldwide memes with the phrase #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave. Howard was hailed as a national hero, and even had American fans calling for him to run for President.
That’s how you know that what I’m going to say next is a big deal, especially coming from an American.
With news that Howard could be leaving Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez has turned his eye to Burnley’s Tom Heaton, and I believe Heaton has all the potential to seamlessly fill Howard’s shoes.
“Now, wait just a minute!” you protest. “You’re telling me this bloke can measure up to a goalkeeping legend?”
Well, it just so happens that the bloke in question had 10 clean sheets in 38 Premier League appearances this season, tied with Manchester United superstar David De Gea. Heaton also conceded 58 goals in 40 total competitions, just one more than Howard did across 42 matches.
“Alright,” you say, “But Heaton still hasn’t left the impact Howard has on the clubs he’s been with!”
He hasn’t had the chance to. Since his first team debut for Manchester United in 2005, Heaton has jumped around and played for nine different clubs.
The 29-year-old was loaned out to six different teams during his time with the Red Devils, after which he spent stints at Cardiff and Bristol City before arriving at Burnley two years ago. Twenty clean sheets in his outstanding first season with the Clarets saw the team promoted to the Premier League the following year.
Despite such an unsettled career, Heaton has remained remarkably consistent, averaging 10.75 clean sheets in seasons since 2010 where he played in more than 30 matches.
Howard himself played with Heaton at Old Trafford for three years and recently praised the Englishman’s progress.
Heaton’s impressive performance this season saw him called up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the first time ever a few weeks ago, making him the first Burnley player since 1974 to have the honour of being in the England squad.
Heaton has yet to feature for Hodgson’s side and is still very much in the shadow of England keepers Joe Hart and Robert Green while on the international stage, but there is hope for him to continue to rise to prominence domestically should he take Howard’s spot at Everton.
Five years younger than Howard, Heaton’s consistency and good health points to a bright future in England. And where better to get more first team experience than at Goodison Park? If the big American does decide to leave Everton, Martinez could do much worse than signing Heaton.
Given the opportunity, Heaton could rise to the status Howard currently has of a legend between the sticks. And who knows, maybe in a few years’ time, the English will be calling for Heaton to run for Prime Minister.