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Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope’s journey from rejection at Ipswich Town should inspire youngsters – Garnham

PUBLISHED: 13:26 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:27 13 September 2017

Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope (left) with Burnley's goalkeeping coach, Billy Mercer

Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope (left) with Burnley's goalkeeping coach, Billy Mercer

PA Wire/PA Images

Leiston goalkeeper Marcus Garnham has hailed former Ipswich Town youngster, Nick Pope’s ‘unbelievable’ rise to the Premier League and believes his story can inspire kids of all ages.

Rejected by the Blues as a youngster, Pope (25) made his Premier League bow for Burnley at the weekend, as a substitute for injured England goalkeeper Tom Heaton, and kept a clean sheet as the Clarets beat Crystal Palace, 1-0, at Turf Moor.

It was a far cry from Pope’s humble beginnings, the Soham-born stopper finding himself playing for part-time Bury Town and studying at West Suffolk College, having left Portman Road at 16.

Garnham played with Pope at Bury and, having become friends, is delighted to see the ex-Charlton Athletic man make his bow.

“I saw that Nick was making his debut on Twitter and I ran straight into the house and watched the rest of the game,” said Garnham.

“It was amazing to see. He is a really nice guy and it’s nice when good things happen to people like that.”

Garnham, who himself spent time at Town as a youngster, added: “I remember him in the youth setup at Ipswich when I was there and he was the total opposite to what he is now.

“He was small and lacked confidence but then he went to West Suffolk College (after leaving Ipswich) and I bumped into him at Bury (Town) and he was six-foot-five and had all the attributes. I was like ‘What have you been doing?!’

“He was tall, commanding, confident and an agile, big guy. We worked hard together in training and he really was a top lad.

“There was a period where I was not playing very well (at Bury) and the manager (Richard Wilkins) knew Charlton were watching Nick and gave him a run of games.

“He did well and deserved everything that came his way.

“He smashed the Championship (at Charlton) and made an important save from Christian Benteke, on his debut.

“Unfortunately Tom Heaton is now out for a few weeks, so hopefully Nick can take his chance.”

And Garnham believes Pope’s story can be a positive for any disheartened youngster.

“It’s nice to see someone, rejected at a young age, get to where Nick has, and it’s a great story for all youngsters out there,” he added,

“He was told he was not good enough but carried on playing and has proved people wrong.”

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Ipswich Town’s U18 Academy boss Alan Lee praised his side after they progressed in the FA Youth Cup after beating Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1 at Portman Road last night.

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Ipswich Town U18 Academy boss Alan Lee is hoping his young charges can keep up the proud Blues tradition of success in youth football, with victory against Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round tonight, at Portman Road, 7pm ko.

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