But the 22-year-old is taking the Welsh road to his Old Trafford dream.
The Chester-born goalkeeper has joined FA Cup finalists Cardiff City on loan for next season.
But he sees his 12-months in the Championship as a route back to United glory.
"It would mean everything to become Manchester United's No1," Heaton says.
"As soon as I first signed and started to play for United at under-12 level that was the goal I set out to achieve. Nothing has changed since then.
"My move to Cardiff City is another step towards that target and it is in the back of my mind all the time."
He became United's third choice instead behind Edwin van der Sar and Tomas Kuszczak instead but didn't see any senior action.
Now he faces a battle for the gloves with Finnish international Peter Enckelman at Ninian Park.
"All things considered it was decided that Cardiff offered the best opportunity for me," said Heaton.
"They have huge ambition to challenge for promotion next season and they play good football. They are two of the main reasons I was keen to sign for Cardiff.
"First and foremost my aim is to be No1. I need to be playing.
"After that, once the season gets going, it's to push for promotion.
"I talked to the manager Dave Jones and chairman Peter Ridsdale and there is no doubt the whole club is geared towards promotion and I am certainly no different."
While Heaton has yet to make inroads into his senior ambitions at Old Trafford, the experiences have been memorable.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to work under a manager of Sir Alex Ferguson's stature," added Tom. "It's difficult to put into words how he manages the club, how good he is and how much respect he gets from the players.
"It's frightening really. I've loved being able to work with him and long may that continue.
"I was in the squad for the European Champions League final, although I wasn't involved in the match.
"Just being there and part of the squad was outstanding."