The Three Lions goalkeeper chats about his meteoric rise to the England team!
2017-18 was a real whirlwind year for your career!
POPE SAYS: “It was something that I couldn’t have foreseen. When
Tom Heaton went down with injury, it was an opportunity for me – and it’s something that has blossomed into an England call-up! Burnley finished in the top seven in the league with our best ever points total too, so it was great!”
How did it feel when you got your first England call-up?
POPE SAYS: “It was obviously a massive achievement and something I was really happy about. It was a day I never thought would come. I got to share it with my family and friends, and that was a big elation for everyone close to me.”
Is England’s No.1 shirt up for grabs?
POPE SAYS: “I think it will be. There has to be one No.1 for the World Cup, one goalkeeper who has that slot. There are obviously games left to prove yourself and it’s every man for himself!”
Do you think that man can be you?
POPE SAYS: “I want it to be me, yeah! It’s obviously an honour to represent your country first of all, and then to go to a World Cup is a massive honour. Being No.1 is something I want to be and that’s why I’m delighted to be here!”
How do you rate England’s World Cup chances?
POPE SAYS: “We have some great players. Some have played at the top of European football and some haven’t. We have great talent in this country – you just have to look at how many youth tournaments England have won in the last couple of years. I don’t think that’s to be underestimated, so we have to go there with great belief.”
Who was your favourite keeper growing up?
POPE SAYS: “I was an Ipswich fan so I liked Richard Wright, who won caps for England. I was a season ticket holder at Portman Road, so I got to watch him a lot. Beyond that, Petr Cech is a great keeper. He’s got a similar stature to myself, so I’ve always enjoyed watching him too.”
Your journey will inspire lots of players!
POPE SAYS: “I’d never been involved in any England set-up – the Under-21s, Under-16s or anything in between, so I hope there are people out there who can see there is a pathway. There is a possibility that you might not be involved in those teams and play in the Conference, but still progress through the leagues and get called up.”
And finally, what are your personal targets?
POPE SAYS: “I’m hungry to be the best goalkeeper I can be. Obviously it’s a big opportunity and one of the best moments of my life to be involved in the squad, so it’s something that I really want to enjoy. I want to prove myself, alongside my peers in the squad, and to the England manager as well.”