FORMER King’s Ely student (Old Elean) and Premier League goalkeeper Nick Pope has been called up to the England squad.
Nick, who was a student at King’s Ely from 2000 to 2008, discovered on March 15th that he had been called up to the squad and to say that the school community is proud of his achievements would be an understatement.
Nick started his career in Ipswich Town’s youth team and after being released aged 16 joined Bury Town. He signed for League One club Charlton Athletic in May 2011, before having loan spells with Harrow Borough, Welling United, Cambridge United, Aldershot Town, York City and Bury. Nick joined Premier League team Burnley in July 2016 and he has gone from strength to strength since.
Nick’s mum, Bridget, who taught girls’ games at King’s Ely for more than 40 years, was in school invigilating an exam on the day the news was announced. Bridget, who lives in Wicken, near Ely, with her husband, David, said: “We are all over the moon for Nick and obviously we are extremely proud. It doesn’t feel real to be honest. There has been a lot of media attention saying that Nick should be called up to the England squad and obviously we have always wanted him to get that far but it’s one of those things that you don’t think will ever actually happen. He’s so chuffed and even more pleased that his teammate at Burnley, James Tarkowski, has been called up too as they are good friends. Nick’s passion for football was always very well supported by King’s Ely and I’d like to thank everyone here for that.”
Nick, whose brother, Joshua, also attended King’s Ely, is one of four uncapped players to be named for England manager Gareth Southgate’s 27-man squad to face the Netherlands and Italy on March 23rd and 27th. Swansea defender Alfie Mawson and Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook were also included, as were Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.
Nick’s call-up is reward for his impressive displays since replacing the injured Tom Heaton at Burnley. The 25-year-old is one of four goalkeepers named in the squad, with West Ham’s Joe Hart also included alongside Jack Butland (Stoke) and Jordan Pickford (Everton).
Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, said: “It is wonderful to see Nick’s undoubted talent recognised but, even more than that, to know that his commitment and determination over the years is an inspiration to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps.”