Tom Heaton was left speechless as he celebrated his best moment in football in the wake of Burnley’s fantastic promotion back to the Premier League.
Two stunning first-half goals courtesy of Ashley Barnes and Michael Kightly gave the Clarets an outstanding 2-0 victory over FA Cup holders and local rivals Wigan Athletic and sent them back to the top-flight of English football after a four-year absence.
Sean Dyche’s team achieved automatic promotion in style having already amassed their highest-ever league points tally since the ‘three points for a win’ rule was first introduced back in 1981 – with two fixtures still left to be played before the end of this unforgettable season.
And Burnley now know they will begin next campaign in the elite for only the second time in the last 39 years.
Speaking shortly after the final whistle on Monday, Heaton said: “It’s difficult to put into words, really. It’s my best feeling in football by a countrymile. Just incredible!
“I think the thought process we were out with against Wigan was to try and earn the right to be in the Premier League.
“The motivation was there, so was the hunger and we played as a team as we have done all season.
“I think we fully deserved the three points which take us to the next level!
“You can’t ask for anymore than to put yourself in a position where you need a win going into the last three games of the season.
“Obviously, you want to do it as quickly as possible and thankfully, we went about it in the right manner and it’s just incredible now!”
For the Clarets goalkeeper, the victory over the Latics marked an end to a remarkable turnaround.
Heaton arrived at Turf Moor on a free transfer last summer after he had been relegated from the Championship with Bristol City.
And he was keen to give credit for his journey to teammates, staff and manager Sean Dyche, in particular.
Heaton said: “I’ve said many times that something was special from the moment I went through the door.
“I think we’ve gone on from there. We’ve build the momentum, raised the standards and kept it going.
“It’s an incredible testament to the players, but probably more so to the staff and the manager.
“They’ve set the standards and kept all the factors that go into it in the right position.
“They’ve got it right and it’s just a fantastic achievement.
The shot-stopper added: “For me personally, the manager has been incredible.
“To bring me here and set the standards for what he wanted to do, you want to follow him and carry out his orders.
“In general, he’s been absolutely top draw.
“I think everyone can see what he’s been about this year: the work ethic, discipline and beyond that, the quality.
“All of this is down to him and I’m massively pleased to be playing for him.”
This season, Heaton has been the man behind the meanest defence in the division.
Burnley have conceded just 35 goals in 44 league games while a clean sheet against Wigan was their 20th of the campaign in all competitions, including three in the last four matches.
What a contrast to last season for the goalkeeper!
He admitted: “It’s amazing what twelve months could do in football.
“Last year, I was certainly down the bottom end of the table in terms of goals conceded and bottom of the table in general!
“It just shows that if you keep working hard and doing the right things, you never know what could lie around the corner.”