Nick Pope, the 25 year old Burnley goal keeper’s sensational season is just getting better and better, he has been called into the England squad by the manager for their forthcoming friendlies in preparation for the world cup after an impressive debut Premier League season. On the back of his performance so far, he has every right to be in that squad now and even on that plane to the summer world cup finals in Russia.
At age 16 he probably will never dream of a day like this, to be called into the England squad when he was let go by Ipswich. He was young and probably nowhere to turn to, but the brilliant Burnley goal keeper did not allow that set back, at very young age to kill his dream. He took up a par-time job as milk man while playing for a non-league team in other to keep his dream of becoming a professional footballer alive.
“It’s been a hard ride,” he said. “I had a couple of jobs. I worked in Next and on a milk round. I was on an electric float, a 4am-er in Soham. It didn’t pay much.”
A very remarkably story, even more remarkable than that of Jamie Verdy. Pope joined non-league Bury Town after leaving Ipswich, and even after joining Charlton Athletic in 2011 had spells outside the Football League at Harrow Borough, Welling United and Aldershot Town.
This awesome young man was willing to put in the shift wherever the opportunity showed up to get to where he wanted to be.
“I’ve played in some cold, dark leagues,” he said. “I was in Bury Town reserves in the Essex and Suffolk Border League. I think that was tier seven he said.
“Brightlingsea was a rough one… I hope the people of Brightlingsea don’t mind! Little Oakley – some places you need a map. [It was] 10 people and a dog. “But you have to prove yourself at every level to get to the next one.”
Pope joined Burnley from Charlton in 2016 but only made his Premier League debut in September when the Clarets’ first-choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton was injured. “I feel like I’ve put in some hard yards and proven myself at those levels. I don’t think it’s a fluke to get called up to the England squad. “It’s obviously a day I never thought I’d see come and, now it has, it’s massive elation for me and everyone close to me.”
It just shows how far this lad has come, from an absolute nothing, a non-league, a 4am start milk man to England world cup team is just remarkable.
Pope story is a massive encouragement to sixteen and seventeen year old who have been rejected by the big clubs to never give up. Do not let the disappointment of rejection from the big clubs destroy your dream or ambition, keep plucking away at it and eventually you will get to your destination.
Up and down the country there have been young aspiring footballers in various club’s academy who have been rejected like Pope who never made it again. Some left the game indefinitely, while some never really got their life together afterwards when the dream of riches, fast cars and life on the fast lane has been taken away from them.
Some clubs elevate, motivate and feel these young academy footballers with promises of first team football, contracts at the age sixteen but only to be told one day ‘sorry son you’re not good enough’. A day every academy player did not want to see nor live through.
Hard work, dedication, determination and single mindedness paid off eventually for Pope.
Credit has got to be given to Sean Dyche as well, the vibrant young and excellent English manager for the way he nurtures and develops his players especially young Pope.
Pope has impressed tremendously so far in the league and i believe representing your country or choice of goal keeper for the national team should be based on performance and current form not on past glory.
He should be way above goalies like Manchester city’s Joe Hart, who has been No1 goal keeper for the past six years and Stock’s keeper Jack Butland who who started England’s last qualifier against Lithuania.
The choice of who to be No1 goal keeper at the world cup should be between Everton’s Jordan Pickford, who made his international debut last November against Germany and Nick Pope
The graph below shows how impressive he has been so far this season. Fewer goals considered than the rest of them and considering his club’s position in the league.
Southgate, the England manager said the number one jersey at this summer’s World Cup was “up for grabs”, when he named his 27-man squad.
“I want it to be me,” Pope said. “It would be a massive honour to represent your country and to go to a World Cup. “There are eight games left of the Premier League season and it is every man for himself. “You have got to be hungry, greedy and have to push yourself,” he added. “It is a new challenge and a challenge I want to take on.”
I think Pope based of recent performance deserve his place in the team. Sentiments and past glory aside, I don’t think Joe Hart should be on that plane to Russia. But then, we don’t often pick players based on performance in this country, otherwise how do you explain Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck in and Brighton Glenn Murray not in the team.
Who do you think should be England NO 1 goal keeper at the world cup?
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