Clarets skipper Heaton inspired by Marshall

Tom Heaton saves from Steven Gerrard at Wembley
Tom Heaton saves from Steven Gerrard at Wembley
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Clarets captain Tom Heaton admits former Cardiff colleague David Marshall has been a big influence on him.

Heaton had a spell on loan in the Welsh capital in 2008/09, before joining the Bluebirds on a permanent basis after leaving Manchester United in the summer of 2010.

There he battled it out with former Celtic man Marshall for a starting berth, before the Scotland international emerged as first choice.

However, Marshall's consistency and professionalism spurred Heaton on to similar levels, moving on to Bristol City and then Burnley, where he has since won a place in the England squad.

Ahead of his return to Cardiff, Heaton said: “He’s top top drawer. When I first signed there permanently me and him battled it out.

“I played 25 games and he played 20-odd games.

“Then Malky (Mackay) came in and he was absolutely top drawer for that season. I was sat behind him on the bench - frustrating on a personal note but at the same time it was a good learning curve for me, realising that for the 44 games he played - I played two - consistently he was top drawer.

“It was interesting for me that in the bluster and muster of the Championship that you can get someone that can perform consistently at that level.

“It probably opened my eyes a little bit and I used that as sort of a bit of inspiration really moving forward.

“He’s certainly gone on and taken that to the next level. His performances have got better and better, he went to the Premier League and played really well.

“He’s right in there with Scotland at the minute as well.

“He’s a top goalkeeper and I got on really well with him. We had a great relationship and I’m looking forward to catching up."

Heaton learned a lot watching on from the bench, although there we difficult moments as well: “It’s tough. When I was behind Marshy it was about getting better for me, day in day out, so when the time came, whether that was at Cardiff or somewhere else - ultimately it ended up being somewhere else - I was better than I was.

“You have a certain amount of time to work on things and get better and as I wasn’t playing you have more time to train and you can probably allow yourself to do more in the gym, on the pitch, and you’re learning different ways.

“I always had the end in mind, that when the time came I’d be ready to go.

“It’s not straightforward but you try to see the bigger picture and then you break that down into the day-to-day, what you’re actually doing to make yourself better and not cruising along.

“That got me through a little bit to be honest."

Asked whether the experience helped make him the player he is, he added: “It’s certainly helped. I think it all adds into the mix. You try to develop and get better when it’s not quite happening in terms of getting the playing time I wanted.

“It probably makes you appreciate it when you are in the team and not to let it go."

Heaton had some memorable moments with Cardiff, notably two penalty saves in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg penalty shootout against Crystal Palace to sent the Bluebirds to Wembley, before more heroics in the final against Liverpool, where he saved from Steven Gerrard, although the Reds won the cup.

“I had some brilliant times," he said, "The highlight of it was the Wembley game, running around Cardiff’s pitch after the semi-final was a big moment.

“The final was probably slightly bigger in my mind, a shame not to win it really. But it was a great day and great memories.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

"I had some really great times there, it’s a great footballing place and the club’s done well over the last few years with a year in the Premier League and Championship contenders.

“I’m looking forward to going back but the most important thing is focusing on the job in hand getting it done."