Tom Heaton admitted his shock debut call-up to the England squad was a dream come true.
The Clarets keeper today (Thursday) became the first Burnley player since Martin Dobson in 1974 to receive a full England call, after being included in Roy Hodgson’s latest squad.
Heaton joins Joe Hart and Rob Green in the squads for next month’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and the Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia.
And the 29-year-old admitted he was lost for words when Burnley boss Sean Dyche broke the news to him on Tuesday.
Heaton said: “It’s difficult to put into words. When the manager told me it was almost difficult to believe and then there was a euphoric flood of emotion.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and pretty much everything since I started playing has been geared towards trying to get there.
“This isn’t the final step because the dream goes beyond this, but it’s certainly a great step along the way and I’m absolutely thrilled.”
He added: “It’s not really sunk in yet, but I have to say a huge thank you to Matt Gilks (Burnley goalkeeper) for his help and support and especially to Billy Mercer (Clarets’ Goalkeeping Coach) for all the work he’s put in with me over the last couple of years.
“We work very hard and he’s had a massive input into my development, and still does.
“Equally, the same applies to the manager and his staff, who continue to give great guidance.
“On the grander scale it’s nice to be the first player in many years to be called up for England, but hopefully I’m one of many more because it can only be good for the club to have internationals.
“I’m just pleased for the whole club and I’m just looking forward to the experience.”
The news caps a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the former Manchester United youngster, who two years ago suffered relegation to League One with Bristol City.
That summer, Sean Dyche made him his first signing on a free transfer, and the Chester-born stopper enjoyed a successful first season at Turf Moor, helping the Clarets earn promotion to the Premier League.
Nine clean sheets later, and a host of top performances in the top flight has now been rewarded with an international call-up.
“It’s another indication of never knowing just what’s around the corner,” he said.
“I’ve never changed my approach from when I was at Manchester United and that is to get better, play games and keep learning.
“Even in the season when we got relegated to League One at Bristol City, I felt like I was going about things the right way.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood through the trees when you’ve been relegated in that manner, when we’d been expected to do well, but it certainly feels a long way away from that feeling now and I’m over the moon.”
And Heaton admitted he was now looking forward to meeting up with his new international team mates in two weeks’ – and pulling on the famous Three Lions’ shirt.
“I’ve played internationally at pretty much every age group in the youth ranks, but that seems a long, long time ago now,” he laughed.
Tom in England colours as an U16...
“It’s difficult to say what I’m most looking forward to, but I guess training alongside the lads and getting involved in the whole set-up.
“This is the highest level you can get to, so I just want to test myself against the top players.”