The 34-year-old fulfilled his own prophecy as the League Two side went down valiantly against the Premier League champions on Saturday
Port Vale striker Tom Pope has revised his joke about Manchester City defender John Stones following the former’s FA Cup header in defeat, stating that he would score 50 goals per season against the England man.
The Premier League champions came away unscathed through their third round tie with the League Two outfit, prevailing 4-1 thanks to goals from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden.
However, their visitors at the Etihad Stadium were able to get themselves on the score sheet after their 34-year-old striker levelled things up late in the first half, to fulfil his own prophetic claims made six months ago.
In June, following England’s Nations League semi-final defeat to the Netherlands, the journeyman forward wrote on Twitter: “I know I’m a League Two player, I know he plays for England […] but I’d love to play against John Stones every week! I’d get 40 a season!”
Speaking after the match, Pope quipped that he thought City’s players game him a wide berth for his comments when he went to swap shirts after the match, but admitted that he was elated to have scored.
“I managed to get Zinchenko’s – the rest of them pied me off,” he said to BBC Sport.
“I never dreamed I would score and would have been happy to have a few touches.”
Taking to Twitter shortly afterwards, he added: “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.”
— Tom Pope (@Tom_Pope9) January 4, 2020
Both sides shared the hosts’ changing room after a good-natured encounter, while Vale manager John Askey shared a glass of wine with opposite number Pep Guardiola.
The Valiants boss paid credit to City afterwards, while admitting that he thought he was having a dream when Pope scored his leveller.
“They have really looked after us,” he stated. “They invited the players in after the game and they have been having a bit of a laugh, especially about Popey and John Stones as you can imagine.
“I was waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up [when Pope scored]. No, I thought I was dreaming. It wasn’t just that it was a goal, it was the way it was scored as well.
“I am just a bit disappointed with the goals that we conceded – two were VAR decisions which were within a whisker of being offside – and the first one was a deflected shot that was going wide. I couldn’t have really have asked much more from my players.”