Former Aston Villa player handed 'invaluable' role as he gets England call-up

Former Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton is going to Germany with England's squad this summer as they prepare to participate in Euro 2024. England, in Group C, kick off their campaign against Serbia this Sunday night and then tackle Denmark and Slovenia in each of the next couple of weeks.

Heaton, who is currently at Manchester United, spent two years at Villa Park when he signed for the club upon their promotion in 2019, costing Villa around £8m at the time. He was a routine pick for Dean Smith, after the days of Pierluigi Gollini, Orjan Nyland and Lovre Kalinic in seasons before, but disaster struck on New Year's Day in 2020 when he suffered knee ligament damage at former club Burnley. He never played for the club again.

Heaton played second fiddle to Emiliano Martinez the season after, having recovered, but he was allowed to join Manchester United in the summer of 2021 and has been there since. He is considered to be among the most popular footballers and is renowned for his work within the Professional Footballers' Association. Now, he will spend the summer with Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale and will support them as they compete.

READ: Aston Villa transfer target has learned his lesson and proven Sam Allardyce wrong

READ: Key Champions League dates for Aston Villa diaries and final venue confirmed

“I am really pleased Tom has agreed to join us in Germany,” Gareth Southgate said. "Experience tells us that a tournament can put a lot of demand on our goalkeeping group led by Martyn Margetson. Tom will play an invaluable role on the training pitch supporting Jordan, Aaron and Dean.

"Off the field as someone we all know well, he will add to the positive environment we are always looking to create. We are grateful to Manchester United for their support in making this happen."

Heaton, who has three England caps himself, added: "Incredibly honoured to be asked by Gareth to join the squad. To get the call to go to a major tournament, to help in anyway I can and pass on my experience is a proud moment. We have a great squad, I’m excited and can't wait to join the group."

Heaton, 38, will be reunited with former Villa teammates Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa, who are both included in Southgate's final 26-man group.

Click here to join our Aston Villa WhatsApp Community to receive the latest news and transfer headlines.