By Phil Jennings
TOM Heaton admitted he was not sure if he would become a Villa player this summer.
Boss Dean Smith was frustrated at every turn as he looked for a new keeper as Villa prepared for their Premier League return.
Jack Butland appeared to be top of Smith’s list but Stoke’s asking price of @20million was too rich.
And attempts to get Heaton from Burnley were initially blocked by Burnley’s asking price of around £10million.
But Villa were eventually able to do a deal worth £8.5million and the 33-year-old was heading to Villa Park.
And Heaton was keen on the opportunity – at Burnley he would have been up against Joe Hart and Nick Pope for the No1 shirt.
Heaton told Villa’s official website: “It’d been on the cards for a while. I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to go through.
“I’ve spoken to the manager and it seems like a fantastic opportunity. He’s got a real positive outlook and I was really impressed with everything he had to say.
“I was on board straight away. I didn’t need any persuading.”
Heaton automatically becomes one of the ‘old heads’ of the team with Villa’s outfield signings being in their 20s.
But the England keeper said: “The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that.
“Hopefully, I’ll bring a bit of experience to it. There’s momentum here – you could see that from afar.
“This club got the ball rolling last season and it turned into a huge success story in the second half of the campaign.
“To gain promotion was absolutely brilliant. It’s been a busy window so far – a lot of signings. But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club.”