Funny old year for Burnley and England keeper Pope
It was Jimmy Greaves who coined the phrase 'It's a funny old game.'
And Clarets keeper Nick Pope can fully empathise with the sentiment.
Pope only made his first Premier League appearance in September 2017, coming on for Tom Heaton after the skipper dislocated his shoulder against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor.
The former Charlton keeper slotted in seamlessly, helping Burnley secure their highest league finish in 44 years, as they claimed a place in the Europa League.
And he spent the summer in Russia with England, as Gareth Southgate’s number three keeper, after making his Three Lions bow against Costa Rica.
However. after returning from Russia, he also dislocated his shoulder in the Europa League at Aberdeen in July.
He made his return on Saturday in Burnley’s FA Cup third round win at home to Barnsley, and Pope smiled: “It’s been a funny old year!
“Really high with finishing seventh last season and going to the World Cup, and then starting this season about three days off, and I was written off for five months of the season or whatever it was.
“But that’s just the way football works. You’ve got to get your head around it. The best thing for me, my career and the club was me getting my head around it.
“Injuries are part and parcel and if someone asked me what is the worst thing about football I’d say that. You train to play and prove yourself, and go out on a Saturday and give it all to get three points.
“So to be able to get out there on the training pitch and not playing on a Saturday was tough. But it’s behind me now and I have to look forward.”
Pope admits Heaton was a big help on the road back: “The lads have been (supportive), especially Heats who had the same injury, so it’s been great to lean on him for advice and experience and everything he went through. Adam Legzdins has done both his shoulders too actually so it’s been great to talk to those who have been in that situation.”