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IF Gareth Southgate was selecting his England goalkeeper on form, there is every chance it would be Nick Pope.

Yet it was not that long ago that Pope was getting up in the middle of the night to start his milk round.

Let go by Ipswich as a teenager, Pope (above, being measured for his England suit yesterday) went into non-league football and had to earn his first wages the hard way. He explained: "I worked on a milk round and also had a job in Next. I didn't get enough money!

"It didn't pay much. I was on an electric float on a four-in-the-morning round in Soham." In terms of starting at the bottom and reaching the top, Pope's journey is one of the more remarkable ones.

He said: "Obviously when you get released by Ipswich at 16 you think making it is a long way off.

"At one point I was in Bury Town Reserves in the Essex and Suffolk Border League. I think that was tier seven. I think I won the reserve version of the Suffolk Senior Cup.

"Some places you needed a map to find out where they were. There were 10 people and a dog there. So this is a day I never thought I would see come."

Pope, 25, made the jump from Bury Town to Charlton Athletic in 2011 but spent five years hopping from club to club on loan, including spells at four non-league teams.

But he was picked up by Burnley in the summer of 2016 and could now make his England debut alongside club team-mate and centre-half James Tarkowski, who resisted overtures from Poland before being called up by Southgate.

Tarkowski is still eligible for Poland through his grandfather but said: "I always saw myself as English so to play for Poland would be difficult."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 21, 2018
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