Bury keeper Pope’s dream move

BURY Town keeper Nick Pope, released by Ipswich Town at the age of 16, has secured a dream move to Charlton Athletic.

The 19-year-old custodian has signed for the League One club on a two-year deal, after impressing in a few training sessions at The Valley.

A student at the West Suffolk College for the last three years – the college has very close links with Bury Town – Pope will now pursue the professional career that initially looked beyond him after being released by Ipswich.

Bury boss Richard Wilkins, who predicts a big future for 6ft 5ins tall Pope, was also a late starter himself in his own professional career as a midfielder, having also been released by Ipswich at the age of 16. He went on to enjoy a good career at Cambridge United, Colchester United and Hereford.

Wilkins believes that Pope also has the ability to make the grade in the Football League.

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“The fact that Nick has come back from the disappointment of being released by Ipswich, shows there is still hope for youngsters,” explained Wilkins.

“And that’s especially as a lot of Football League clubs are looking to the lower leagues now for talented players.

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“Like me, Nick did not make it as a 15 or 16-year-old. I didn’t play for Colchester until I was 19.

“I always thought that he had terrific potential, and I predict a bright future for him. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves up to the higher leagues in future years.

“It’s a big step for him, turning professional, but he still wants to continue with his education at Charlton, by going to Roehampton University.

“It’s a dream come true for him,” added Wilkins.

Pope is the latest in a number of West Suffolk College students who have become professional footballers, following in the footsteps of the likes of Liam Trotter and Ian Miller.

Neil Reader, the sports academy manager at the College, is not surprised that Pope has joined the ranks of the Football League, although he is amazed that Charlton were the only club to express an interest. He believes that clubs like Ipswich, Norwich and Colchester have missed an opportunity.

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