FOOTBALL: England debut for Nick Pope ahead of World Cup

PUBLISHED: 09:31 13 June 2018

Nick Pope (right) applauds the fans along with fellow goalkeeper Jack Butland after England's friendly win against Costa Rica. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Nick Pope (right) applauds the fans along with fellow goalkeeper Jack Butland after England's friendly win against Costa Rica. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

PA Wire/PA Images

Nick Pope made his England international debut on the eve of the World Cup.

Nick Pope training with England ahead of the World Cup. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGESNick Pope training with England ahead of the World Cup. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

The Wicken-born goalkeeper was sent on as a second-half substitute during the 2-0 friendly success against Costa Rica last Thursday.

Pope played the final 25 minutes of England’s final warm-up match at Elland Road, in Leeds and was thrilled to represent his country.

He said: “I’m immensely proud and privileged to make my England debut.

“I was given the heads-up the previous night that I would play some part in the game and that helped me to prepare myself mentally.

Nick Pope training ahead of the World Cup. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGESNick Pope training ahead of the World Cup. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

“I was happy with what I did. It’s important to show confidence to the players in front of you as a goalkeeper.”

Pope will battle with Everton ace Jordan Pickford and Stoke man Jack Butland to be his country’s number one at the World Cup. England face Tunisia (Monday), Panama (June 24) and Begium (June 28) in their three Group G games in Russia.

A first international appearance provided another fantastic moment in the remarkable rise of a shot-stopper who was released by Championship club Ipswich Town a decade ago at the age of 16.

Pope briefly dropped into non-league football before returning to the professional game with Charlton Athletic, but it was only last season that his career really took off when starring for Burnley in the Premier League.

Pope is also being linked with a big-money transfer to Champions League runners-up Liverpool this summer.

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