England new boys James Tarkowksi and Nick Pope have both capped a remarkable rise with their first call-ups to the national squad.
While Tarkowski started his career with Oldham Athletic before moving up a division with Brentford, Pope experienced loan football in non-league and League Two while trying to make the grade at Charlton Athletic.
Both players joined the Clarets in 2016 and after stamping their class on the Premier League with Sean Dyche’s side this season, have been rewarded with places in Gareth Southgate’s squad for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy later this month.
“You work hard all your life and all your career and probably for me and Nick, five or six years ago when you’re down in League One, you probably don’t expect to get to this level of the game,” Tarkowski told Clarets Player HD.
“So to get that call-up is a very pleasing moment for me and my family and friends.
“You always dream of it but it always seems quite far away. It’s probably only really this season for both of us, when we’ve got into the team in the Premier League and done quite well as a club.
“It’s a bit unexpected but you work all your life to get to these kind of moments. It’s a nice reward now, but I don’t think the work stops there.
“There’s a long way to go yet, so just enjoy the moment but don’t take it for granted because it can easily be taken away from you.”
Pope has seized his chance since an injury to England international and club captain Tom Heaton last September.
The Clarets’ keeper has since kept 11 clean sheets in the Premier League to help Burnley occupy a top-seven slot and earn himself one of four berths in the 27-man squad named by Southgate – a regular at Turf Moor this season.
“It’s the top of the game and the pinnacle of where you can get to, so to be called up for your country is a massive honour,” said Pope, who relaunched his career at Bury Town to earn his chance at Charlton after leaving Ipswich Town as a youngster.
“It seems a long way away now and in those times you don’t think things like this are even possible.
“They are so far from your mind, so to get to this point is a massive achievement and something I’m really proud of and to share that with my family and friends is something I can’t wait do.”
Pope and central defender Tarkowski, both 25, follow in the footsteps of Heaton, Jack Cork and Michael Keane in earning England calls in the last 12 months.
And both believe it’s a reflection on the progress of the Clarets and the work being done at Turf Moor.
Tarkowski added: “The position in the league speaks for itself, so the England manager was bound to be watching a few of the lads and fortunately for me and Popey, we’ve got that chance to go and show what we can do.
“It shows how far the club has come that people from Burnley are getting into the England team.
“There are quite a few lads who could have got the call-up. Corky got his a few months back, Ben (Mee) has been terrific and there’s a few more boys out there doing well.
“It’s nice for me and Nick to get a little reward and hopefully we can go there and show what we can do.”
Pope, who like Tarkowski received news of his call-up during training with the Clarets on Thursday morning, said: “It’s great for the goalkeeping department as well at the club and just shows that with a lot of hard work and pushing each other how far you can go.
“We have a great bond and goalkeepers’ union with the four us and Billy (Mercer) leading us. It shows what quality we have at the club.”