Pope departs the Turf
When the final whistle blew at the end of our last Premier League game of the 2021/22 season, I’m sure most Burnley fans considered the possibility that it could be Nick Pope’s last appearance for the Clarets.
That’s proved to be the case with the goalkeeper’s move to Newcastle, our opponents in that last game he played, for what most Burnley fans believe to be a small fee for a goalkeeper who we all believe should have won far more England caps than he has.
He signed for us in the summer of 2016 and, as is the case now, he left his club to join the team he’d last played against. He was in goal for Charlton on that wonderful day in May when our 3-0 win ensured we were going up to the Premier League as champions.
Stood in front of us in the first half, I do recall commenting that it was probably good news that the game wasn’t being played on a Sunday with them having a Pope in goal, but I don’t think any of us could have considered then that within a matter of a few weeks he’d become a Burnley player.
Although 24, he was relatively inexperienced at first team level but quickly made his Burnley debut and one forget as we fell to a 1-0 League Cup defeat at Accrington. He made three more appearance that season, all of them in the FA Cup. He was third choice keeper behind Tom Heaton and Paul Robinson with Robinson stepping in for Premier League games when Heaton wasn’t available.
He didn’t have to wait long for a league debut in his second season. When Heaton suffered a serious shoulder injury in the fourth game against Crystal Palace, Pope came on and kept a clean sheet with one smart save to deny Christian Benteke.
Fate can often deal strange hands. Now first choice, he himself suffered a similar injury to Heaton at Aberdeen and that saw Joe Hart and then Heaton take over goalkeeping duties. Once fit, he played just twice in the FA Cup but the summer of 2019 saw Pope reclaim his place and he’s been first choice ever since.
He’s proved himself to be an outstanding Burnley goalkeeper, as good as any for most fans and that’s some accolade having followed Heaton. Only recently he turned in superb performances in the draws at West Ham and Aston Villa, making breath taking saves in both games.
It seems ridiculous that he’s only just about managing to keep his place in the England squad. He has eight England caps, a total bettered only by Bob Kelly and John Connelly while Burnley players.
Like James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, who left the club at the end of last season, we can only send Nick off with our best wishes and thanks. He’s a superb goalkeeper who needs and deserves to be playing in the Premier League.Follow UpTheClarets:
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