Jordan Pickford says having one England cap is “not enough” – and he has a lot to do before he can claim to have “made it” as an international footballer.
Everton number one Pickford pulled off a string of terrific stops on his Three Lions bow to help his country secure a fine 0-0 draw with Germany earlier this month.
He was one of three debutants in the starting XI at Wembley, with Gareth Southgate injecting fresh blood into his side as England began their World Cup preparations in encouraging fashion
Pickford was unfazed by playing against the reigning world champions, and was in the thick of the action inside 60 seconds when he raced from his goal to bail out Harry Maguire after the Leicester defender undercooked a backpass.
And while he was delighted to make a sound first impression on the international scene, the 23-year-old insists he is now targeting a long career as his national team’s goalkeeper.
“I need to kick on from that,” Pickford told evertontv. “Only having once cap is not enough. I need to try to get as many caps as I can.
“That is when you can say, ‘I have made it for England’. One cap is nice but I have to keep working hard for Everton, then, hopefully, get the rewards with England.
“It was great for me and my family. And it was a good result – keeping a clean sheet in my first game for England. It was a dream come true.”
Pickford has 14 England Under-21 caps and was a mainstay of the Young Lions team which reached the semi-finals of the European Championship in Poland back in June.
The former Sunderland keeper was subsequently included in two England squads, without making it onto the field – firstly withdrawing injured from the party for games against Malta and Slovakia in September, before being confined to a watching brief last month as Southgate's side sealed their passage to next year’s World Cup in Russia with victories over Slovenia and Lithuania.
Having also represented England at every age-group level from Under-16 to Under-20, Pickford confessed to a sense of relief when he finally got to wear the Three Lions' gloves.
“It has been good getting in those camps nice and early, because you accumulate experience and get to know the lads,” said Pickford.
“With being in the system since I was 16, right through to the Under-21s, it was nice to follow the pathway through to the seniors.
“I finally got that opportunity and had a good game, so I was pleased.”
Pickford hit the ground running after joining Everton in the summer for a fee which could rise to £30million, with his sparkling form in the past three months winning him plenty of notable plaudits.
Former England number one David Seaman recently told evertonfc.com that “proper goalkeeper” Pickford possesses the attributes to become his nation’s top stopper, a sentiment echoed by ex-Middlesbrough, Fulham and Cheslea ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer.
And after watching his countrymen repeatedly thwarted by the Everton player, legendary German midfielder Michael Ballack tweeted piquantly, 'since when England creates goalkeepers'.
Pickford particularly caught the eye with a couple of fantastic saves from RB Leipzig prodigy Timo Werner – after being rushed into action by otherwise excellent teammate Maguire straight from kick-off.
“That is why you prepare well in the warm-up!” said Pickford. “It was nice to get an early touch. I dealt with it well and got on with the game.
“It is good (to hear people praising me), you will always get some good tweets and a few bad ones. You just take it as it is and do not let it affect you too much.
“I saw Ballack’s tweet and had a little laugh at it.”