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New Premier League star Nick Pope didn’t forget Bury Town roots after making Burnley debut

PUBLISHED: 14:10 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:17 13 September 2017

Nick Pope, as a young goalkeeper at Bury Town, in 2009.

Nick Pope, as a young goalkeeper at Bury Town, in 2009.

New Premier League star Nick Pope ensured he didn’t forget his roots after making his top-flight debut for Burnley at the weekend.

The 25-year-old replaced the injured Tom Heaton during the Clarets’ 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday and made a crucial stop from Christian Benteke, to keep the home side’s lead intact.

Pope was a youngster at Ipswich Town but was released as a 16-year-old and went on to play part-time at Bury Town, whilst studying at West Suffolk College, under the leadership of current Needham Market boss, Richard Wilkins.

Wilkins gave Pope his bow at Bury, well aware that scouts from Charlton Athletic were monitoring the Soham-born youngster, who eventually moved to The Valley in 2011.

Pope went on to make 38 appearances for the Addicks during a five-year spell there, before joining Burnley last summer.

A delighted Wilkins said: “Nick sent me a text message on Monday reminding me that when he left (Bury Town), to join Charlton, I said he would be playing Premier League football in five years. It took six but I am delighted for him!

Wilkins, who managed Bury for 14 years, added: “He (Pope) was always unorthodox, not your classic keeper.

“He was a bit like Pat Jennings, Neville Southall, Peter Schmeichel where he had the ability to save shots with all different parts of his body.

“He showed that on Sunday when he saved with his foot from Christian Benteke.

“His kicking wasn’t great when he first started, he could barely clear the 18-yard box, but he has improved that now through listening and hard work and I am really glad he has got his opportunity.”

Pope’s brother Josh, is also a talented goalkeeper, currently playing for Soham Town Rangers, and Wilkins says the goalkeeper has a strong network of people behind him.

“He is a very confident lad and he always has a smile on his face,” explained Wilkins.

“He is the sort of person you like to have a conversation with, his parents really support him, and his brother is a very good goalkeeper too,

“The Charlton goalkeeping coach (Ben Roberts) deserves a lot of praise too.”

The Gunn family know all about the highs and lows that the East Anglian derby can provide and Angus is relishing the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father for Norwich this Sunday.

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers issued a rallying call to his team-mates ahead of Sunday’s derby clash with Norwich City telling them “now is the time to stand-up and be counted.”

Ipswich Town legend and former England captain Terry Butcher has paid tribute to his son Christopher’s “larger than life character” and described him as a “formidable and true friend” following the 35-year-old’s death.

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers has hit back at Nelson Oliveira’s claim that Norwich City are a ‘better club’ with ‘better players’ by calling the City striker ‘not very well educated’.

The fit-and-firing David McGoldrick is the Ipswich Town player that Norwich City fans would most like to have in the Canary ranks in Sunday’s East Anglian derby.

Former Ipswich Town star Marcus Stewart says players have to put themselves “in the shoes of the fans” on derby day.

Just 13 players have represented both Norwich City and Ipswich Town since 1980 – but can you remember which club those players represented more?

Ipswich Town legend George Burley believes the Blues have their best chance of winning an East Anglian derby in years at Portman Road this Sunday lunchtime (12pm ko).

Daniel Farke may be new to East Anglian rivalries but the Norwich City boss warns Ipswich Town face a titanic struggle to break the derby spell.

Every derby is about passion, loyalty and tribal pride. We get it. Ipswich Town v Norwich City is no different. But who do you have a sneaking regard for in the Canaries’ line up?

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