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Nick Pope: The story of the goalkeeper who went from delivering milk to the England squad

Nick Pope's fairytale rise to the England squad really is the stuff of dreams.

Having been released by Ipswich Town as a 16-year-old, he worked on a milk float in his home town of Soham to generate some extra income while he studied at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds.

His ambition of making it as a professional footballer seemed to have been taken away from him, but Pope never gave up, and was rewarded for his perseverance when he was spotted by scouts from Charlton Athletic playing for non-league team Bury Town at Billericay in 2011.

On that day in question, he actually had to borrow a Billericay shirt because of a kit clash, but he did enough to impress those watching and was signed by the Addicks following a successful trial.

Pope played for Bury Town's reserve team, Team Bury, before being promoted to their first team. Credit: Bury Town

Fast forward seven years, and his sensational form in the Premier League for Burnley has earned him a well-deserved call-up to Gareth Southgate's England squad - and his brother Josh, who is also a goalkeeper for Soham Town Rangers, says he couldn't be prouder of him.

"We both dreamt of being professional goalkeepers when we grew up, and unfortunately it didn't happen for me, but I'm really, really proud of him and all that's he's done," Josh told ITV News Anglia.

"He's put in the hard graft, put in the hard yards, and he's got his rewards."

Pope has impressed for Burnley this season. Credit: PA

Richard Wilkins played a huge part in getting Pope's career back on track after he was let go by Ipswich - the club he's supported all his life.

Wilkins not only taught Pope at West Suffolk College, but also gave him his first team debut at Bury Town.

Together, they worked tirelessly to improve the flaws in Pope's game - most notably his kicking which had always been considered his major weakness.

Richard Wilkins helped to get Nick's career back on track. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"His kicking was very poor for his size, he could barely kick it out of the 18-yard box," Wilkins said.

"We worked on that intensively and now he kicks the ball a long way.

"Some lads get dismissed at 16 and their football career takes the wrong path, but he kept studying, he kept working hard, he wanted to play at the highest level and he just had this great belief in himself."

An injury to Burnley number one Tom Heaton presented Pope with an opportunity to star in the Premier League this season - and he's grasped the chance with both hands, keeping 10 clean sheets in 27 Premier League games.

Nick always dreamt of playing for Ipswich Town. Credit: Family picture

It's a rise that has come as no surprise to teachers at The King's Ely school in Ely where Nick was once a pupil, who always knew he had the drive to succeed.

"He was a lovely lad, really good fun and obviously a super sportsman," David Boothroyd, from King's Ely Junior said.

"Every time we see him, we're just so proud. It's such a great achievement."

Nick played in goal for his school team in Ely. Credit: King's Ely School

Sue Freestone, the Principal at King's Ely added: "It's absolutely fantastic, we're so proud of him. It sets such an example to follow for younger people who are involved in sport or pupils who have high aspirations on any kind.

"It's about having a dream, and working hard until you achieve it. If you reach for the stars, you'll catch that odd bit of moon."

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