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Nick Pope: ‘England is so far away but being the No 1 is something I want’

Burnley’s goalkeeper on his lower-league journey, learning not to fear mistakes and his desire to dislodge Jordan Pickford

The goalkeeper’s lot is the peculiarity that hides in plain sight. They train alone most of the time, their technical and fitness work being entirely bespoke, and, come match day, it is preferable that they see as little of the ball as possible. Their view of the pitch is different, fixed and detached – everything feels different – and, for them, the game is as much psychological as physical, the ultimate test of focus.

Nick Pope uses words such as “singular” and “individual”. The Burnley and England goalkeeper remembers how as a young player, he had no teammate to talk him through matches, to offer positional tips. You are on your own between the sticks and the deal can seem thankless, unbalanced; one in which reliability, even excellence, is taken for granted and single mistakes tarnish reputations.

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