Port Vale's Tom Pope celebrates scoring their first goal. (Source: Reuters)
Port Vale striker Tom Pope turned his prediction into reality on Saturday in a FA Cup third-round encounter with English champions Manchester City after he scored a dream first-half equaliser at the Etihad Stadium.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 4, 2020
Although the League Two-side lost the tie 4-1, because of goals from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden, Port Vale had something to sing about at the end of the afternoon. Pope equalised at the 35th minute after heading home David Amoo's cross to cancel out Zinchenko’s opener.
Having previously stated that he would score 40 goals a season if he faced City defender John Stones regularly, the 34-year-old striker upped the number to 50 after his goal against the Pep Guardiola-managed side.
After the match, Pope took to Twitter and said, “Sorry I can’t reply to everyone it’s gone mental! I’d just like to say I was completely wrong and bang out of order to say I’d score 40 a season….. it’s more like 50."
Sorry I can’t reply to everyone it’s gone mental! I’d just like to say I was completely wrong and bang out of order to say I’d score 40 a season..... it’s more like 50 😊😊😊 enjoy your weekend 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
— Tom Pope (@Tom_Pope9) January 4, 2020
Speaking after the match, Pope jokingly said that the City players avoided him deliberately because of his comments, but admitted that he was elated to have scored.
"I managed to get Zinchenko's - the rest of them pied me off. I never dreamed I would score and would have been happy to have a few touches," Pope said to BBC Sport.
Pope's initial comments about Stones were made after the centre-back had made a pair of costly errors in England’s 3-1 loss to Netherlands at the Nations League Finals in June. He had called the centre-back “soft” on Twitter and declared he would have a field day against him.
Just watched the highlights of the England game! I know I’m a league 2 player, I know he plays for England, I know he’s on £150k a week, I know he’s a million times better player than me but I’d love to play against John Stones every week! I’d get 40 a season! #soft #weakaspiss
— Tom Pope (@Tom_Pope9) June 7, 2019
While Manchester City progressed to the fourth round, the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle United would need to show their worth in the replays. Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur have their third-round fixtures on Sunday, before the Merseyside derby kicks off at Anfield.
The draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup will take place on Tuesday, January 6 after the final whistle of the match between Arsenal and Leeds.