Jordan Pickford has revealed how his move to Everton has helped him mature both as a player and a person as he prepares to make his second World Cup appearance in England’s clash with Panama on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
The 24-year-old became the youngest goalkeeper ever to represent England at a World Cup finals in the Three Lions’ 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday. The Toffees stopper produced an assured display as Gareth Southgate’s side kicked off their campaign with a dramatic victory in Volgograd – Harry Kane heading a stoppage-time winner.
Pickford arrived in Russia on the back of an outstanding debut season at Everton. After signing from Sunderland for a British-record fee for a goalkeeper last summer, he went to more than justify his price tag with a string of impressive performances as the last line of the Blues’ defence.
The glovesman played every minute of every Premier League game in 2017/18 – one of only 10 top-flight players to do so – and made the fourth highest number of saves (121).
Pickford’s fine form saw him saw him win a first England cap in November and he delivered a commanding display as the Three Lions kept a clean sheet against world champions Germany at Wembley.
The keeper maintained his consistent excellence for Everton throughout the campaign and was subsequently handed England’s number one jersey by boss Southgate for the World Cup.
And as England aim to make it six points from six in Group G against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, Pickford explains how his season at Goodison Park has seen him develop both on and off the field.
“I moved away from home to join Everton so it was a big change, but a good change,” he told evertonfc.com. “I have really enjoyed moving to the area and that was a bit of a worry – not the football side of things – but moving away from home and leaving mates. It has been beneficial for me.
“Everything happens for a reason and it is all about keeping level-headed. Every game you play, the more mature you become and, moving from home, you have to be mature and be yourself. I think it all helps make you more rounded as a person.
“On the pitch, for me, it’s now about getting more games and more maturity – it’s about game management.
“I am 24 and I’ve played 200 games in various leagues. But, for example, I can’t always do long kicks if the lads need a breather. It’s things like that so I’ll be training hard and that’s what I’ll be focusing on.”
As well as his shot-stopping ability, pinpoint distribution and command of his penalty area, a further standout feature of Pickford’s debut season at Everton was his fearlessness.
This courage, Pickford believes, was a key factor in him becoming a goalkeeper as a youngster.
Everton’s current Player, Players’ Player and Young Player of the Season explains how his grounding – playing with his brother Richard on the streets of Washington, Tyne & Wear – has helped him develop into England’s number one.
“My brother was a decent centre-forward and I was daft as a brush – I’d put my head anywhere,” he says. “He would put me in goal out on the street and I would be there every night diving about on the pavement!
“One day when I was five, he was playing for his team on one pitch and on the other side was a group just training. They didn’t have a keeper so I went in for the craic, threw myself about and ever since then I have been a keeper.
“You don’t see the kids in the street any more, whereas when we were younger we were out until late.
“So, I think it comes from that, and then it was a solid grounding we got from my mum and dad as well. It’s always about being grounded in whatever you do.”