Friday 10 February 2023

Pope's 'last chance' at Charlton

Nick Pope discusses how his time at Charlton kicked off his football career in an interview in The Times today.   When he started at Charlton, he had to follow the chief scout's car to Sparrows Lane as he did not know where it was.  

'I knew this was the last chance. I’d been accepted to go to university in September.'

He says they were “scabby” gloves that he pulled on to his hands that first time at Charlton’s training ground on Sparrows Lane.

“As a goalkeeper you do think of the first shot, ‘I have to get this.’ ” he says. “You don’t want to look like an idiot. You don’t want to look like you’re out of place.

“I remember wearing old, scabby gloves and catching loads of balls. All of a sudden, you’re chucked in and you’re with professional goalkeepers and a goalie coach and you’re doing actual drills.”

Charlton were impressed. He was at home when he got the call, and the offer of a two-year deal. “I was buzzing, yeah,” he says. “It felt like my last chance.”

Pope says every step is not a forward one. He joined Charlton on £125 a week. There were six loan spells at non-League clubs, starting at Harrow Borough. Aldershot was an hour and a half away, and the first time he met his new team-mates was walking up the aisle of the team bus for an away game.

There had been a debut for Charlton that year, coming on as substitute on the final day of the 2012-13 season. “Running on that day was awesome,” he says. He played 40 times for Charlton and when the club were relegated from the Championship in 2016, Burnley bid £1 million for Johan Berg Gudmundsson, and Pope went, in his words, “as an add-on”.

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