FOUR years ago Nick Pope watched the World Cup in his local pub, a face unknown even to most of the residents in his small home town of Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Two years ago he was at the opposite end to Tom Heaton at the Valley on the final day of the Championship season. The Clarets were celebrating the title and Heaton was a matter of weeks away from his first England cap and a squad place at Euro 2016. Pope had been relegated with Charlton.

One year ago he was preparing for his second season at Turf Moor. He'd graduated to Heaton's deputy at Turf Moor as a result of Paul Robinson's retirement, but still hadn't kicked a ball in the Premier League.

Today he is the first Burnley player to feature in an England World Cup squad for 56 years and only the fourth Claret ever to make a Three Lions squad for a major tournament.

It's been a staggering rise for the 26-year-old. When Heaton clutched his shoulder after a heavy fall against Crystal Palace on September 10, Turf Moor took a collective gulp.

He was Burnley's captain, their key man, a Mr Reliable who looked a certainty for the World Cup.

Nobody really knew what to expect from Pope. Nobody, in their wildest dreams, foresaw this.

There were nerves when he made his first top flight start at Anfield. Not for Pope, but for the rest of us. He was still an unknown quantity. Not anymore.

Twelve Premier League clean sheets have followed, with barely a mistake in there. Fans' player of the year, players' player of the year, the awards have been arriving by the trolley load.

Yes, there is room for improvement in his kicking, but his shot-stopping and handling have been exemplary. He has been one of the best three English goalkeepers in the Premier League this season and deserves his place on the plane.

Next time Pope pops in his local, he won't be a face unknown anymore. He's doing his home town proud and he's doing Burnley proud.

When Colin McDonald and John Connelly were part of the England World Cup squads in 1958 and 1962 respectively, Burnley were one of the best clubs in the country.

There's been some lean years since but the Clarets are well and truly back.

Back in Europe and back to supplying players for the Three Lions, with James Tarkowski and Heaton perhaps only one knock away from joining Pope in Russia.