Nick Pope expresses 'unbelievable pride' after competitive England debut
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Burnley's Nick Pope could not contain his delight after a first competitive outing for England in their final EURO 2020 qualifier against Kosovo.

Pope was given the nod by Gareth Southgate ahead of usual no.1 Jordan Pickford, with England's place at next summer's finals already secure.

He had only previously featured for his country in a friendly against Costa Rica prior to the 2018 World Cup.

And he seized his opportunity, keeping a clean sheet to ensure the Three Lions finished six points clear at the top of Group A.

Joy and reflection

Speaking after the match, Pope explained that this milestone meant even more in light of the serious injury he sustained last season.

The shoulder problem prevented him from featuring in the Premier League or from building on his aforementioned international debut.

"My debut in Leeds seems such a long time ago so to come through this and everything that's gone on in between is a really special moment for me and my family," Pope said, as quoted by the official Burnley website.

"On a personal level with my injury and everything like that, to play from the start and to play in a competitive fixture as well, it’s another level for myself. I’m just unbelievably proud."

Stopper makes club history

Pope became the first Burnley goalkeeper to start a competitive game for England for over 60 years.

The last Claret to do it was Colin McDonald, between the sticks at the 1958 World Cup.

England will play four more friendlies prior to EURO 2020, but it is likely that Southgate will select and trial his strongest team.

Everton 'keeper Pickford appears to maintain the edge on Pope.

Both have shipped 18 goals in the Premier League so far this season, with Burnley only a point ahead of the Toffees.

Tom Heaton, who left Turf Moor for Aston Villa during the summer, looks to be third-choice.

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