3/21/2018 5:44:28 AM

From non-league to World Cup, Pope dreams of keeping for England

From non-league to World Cup, Pope dreams of keeping for England

London: Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope once had to get up at 4am to drive a milk float, now the Burnley goalkeeper is hoping his dreams of being England's number one at the World Cup are not disturbed.

Pope, 25, has worked his way up through England's football pyramid, playing in the fifth tier with Aldershot as recently as four seasons ago.

When released by his boyhood club Ipswich at 16, Pope felt "lower than a snake's belly", believing his dream of a professional career was over.

However, after restarting at Bury Town in the seventh-tier Isthmian League, Pope fought his way to the top via Charlton and a host of loan spells in the lower divisions before joining Burnley in 2016.

"Coming up through the leagues, some cold dark ones... you think the national team is too far away," he said at England's state-of-the-art St. George's Park training camp on Tuesday, with preparations for World Cup warm-up friendlies against the Netherlands on Friday and Italy on March 27 well underway.

Pope wasn't even a regular with Burnley until Tom Heaton suffered a dislocated shoulder in September to hand him his top-flight debut.

Yet in just six months, Pope has kept 11 clean sheets to help Burnley up to seventh in the Premier League on a club-record 43 points with eight games still remaining.

"It's a big opportunity, it's one of the best moments of my life to be here," added Pope.

"I want to prove myself amongst my peers that I'm here with now, and obviously the manager as well."

 

 

- Starting spot 'up for grabs' -

 

 

Once upon a time, England could rely upon goalkeeping greats like Peter Shilton, Gordon Banks and David Seaman at major international tournaments.

However, just three months out from the showpiece in Russia, manager Gareth Southgate has admitted "the number one jersey is up for grabs".

Long-time number one Joe Hart's place is under threat as he has featured in just one of West Ham's last 16 Premier League games.

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