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When Steve Cotterill signed John McGreal from Ipswich Town he said that his first signing was the sort of quality he was trying to bring into the club, and when Sean Dyche landed Bristol City goalkeeper Tom Heaton in his first Burnley deal he said it was a marker.

Today, three summers on, Heaton has signed his third Burnley contract and has now committed himself to the club until 2020, the first player to sign a deal going into the third decade of the millennium.

1516 burnley tom heaton 00 630x420It’s a far cry from three years ago when Heaton’s signing was followed by those of Alex Cisak, Nick Liversedge and Danijel Nizic, giving us four new goalkeepers. Supporters, particularly those on the message board, mocked the manager for bringing them in, so many unaware that two of those goalkeepers had been committed to Burnley prior to Dyche arriving as manager.

A year earlier I can recall a poster suggesting we should try and sign Heaton from Cardiff, I might be wrong but I’m sure it was royboyclaret. He looked set to sign for Watford but when Dyche lost his job he chose Bristol City who went on to concede 88 league goals, with Tom in goal for virtually all of them, and went down to League One.

If that was his starting point at Burnley, his stock is certainly considerably higher now. He’s kept 39 clean sheets in two Championship seasons that have both ended in promotion, he kept ten clean sheets in the Premier League, he was appointed club captain a year ago and has now added an England cap to all that, becoming the first Burnley player since Martin Dobson to wear the three lions at full international level.

He still had two years remaining on the contract he signed two years ago but today the club confirmed this latest news that he’s committed himself to the Clarets for the next four seasons, and it is news that has been greeted with nothing other than enthusiasm.

Brilliant, fantastic, great are generally the words used by our supporters on the message board this morning for a player who seems to be a really perfect fit for our club.

Back in August 2013, Dyche said the goalkeepers would be challenging for a place in the team but we all knew it would be Heaton, and it has been ever since. In three years, the only league minutes lost were when he was ridiculously sent off at Brighton. He’s now totalled 130 league appearances for us in succession; that’s still somewhere behind the league record held by Jimmy Strong but there’s no reason why he can’t go on and beat that provided he can stay clear of injury.

Tom gave us a good football cliché to sum up his feelings having signed the new deal. “I am obviously over the moon to sign for another four years,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge, especially this season and whatever comes after that.

“Being at Burnley has been fantastic for me and I’ve enjoyed every minute, on a personal note. Now I’m looking forward, as I say, to what the future is, to keep challenging myself and the position.”

There’s been a lot of frustration this summer among supporters who have that awful déjà vu feeling that the transfer window might prove to be as disappointing as the last two we suffered in the Premier League. But the new deal for Ben Mee lifted everyone, we signed two players yesterday, and now the big news, and it is big news, that our captain is going to be with us for the next four years.

That really is brilliant news.

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