Goalkeeping legend David Seaman has saluted Jordan Pickford’s top-quality distribution as he declared the Everton stopper has proven he is England’s number one “10 times over”.
Pickford produced another standout performance for his country on Monday night – playing a key role as his side secured a famous 3-2 victory over Spain.
The 24-year-old showcased his impressive passing range to devastating effect in Seville. Pickford launched attacks which led to two England goals, as Southgate’s men ended the hosts’ 38-match unbeaten run on Spanish soil.
For the Three Lions’ opener at Estadio Benito Villamarín, Pickford’s fizzing long-range ball picked out Harry Kane just inside his own half. The Tottenham Hotspur man controlled instantly, played the ball wide to Marcus Rashford and his through pass allowed Raheem Sterling to slot home.
The Everton No.1 was the catalyst for England’s second on the night, too. After saving Thiago Alcantara’s 20-yard-effort, he instantly unleashed a fabulous, raking ball forward into Kane. The striker held the ball up before setting Rashford free, who applied the finish.
Sterling got his second and the Three Lions’ third before half-time and – while Luis Enrique’s men got two goals back after the break – England secured a first away triumph over Spain since 1987.
Seaman, who won 75 caps for his country in an international career that spanned 14 years, was thrilled by England’s display and believes the role of Pickford, who last month signed a new six-year contract with Everton, cannot be underestimated.
He admits, on occasion, the glovesman’s pinpoint passing takes the breath away.
“That passing weapon he has is so good and so threatening,” Seaman told evertonfc.com. “It’s not just a long ball, it is so accurate – and that’s what we saw against Spain.
“It makes you go, ‘Wow’.
“When he hits it, you think, ‘Where’s this going?’, but it ends up going straight to the man that he’s aiming for. That part of his distribution is amazing.
“In the Premier League, you’ve got three guys who are really good when it comes to their distribution. You’ve got the two Brazilian keepers – Ederson at Manchester City and Alisson at Liverpool – but they’re not as good as Jordan is with his long passes out of his hands.
“It is the quickness with how he does it, too. As soon as he gets the ball you can see him straight away looking up and rushing to start an attack. It’s great to see. Not only does he see it, he actually executes it and does it with real class.
“It was great night all round against Spain. To go there and win 3-2 is a fantastic result – and I think that score flattered Spain. The way we played in the first half was superb.”
Pickford became the youngest goalkeeper ever to represent England at a World Cup finals at this summer’s showpiece in Russia.
And he went on to play a starring role as the Three Lions reached the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since 1990.
The former Sunderland man’s heroics in the thrilling last 16 win over Colombia saw him become the only England goalkeeper other than Seaman to make a save in a World Cup penalty shootout. He then made a series of sensational stops to repel Sweden in the quarter-finals as the Three Lions booked their last-four spot with a 2-0 victory.
Pickford, who was crowned Player of the Season, Players' Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season in his debut campaign for Everton last term, had won just three international caps before taking his place in starting XI for England’s World Cup opener against Tunisia in Volgograd.
Seaman – a veteran of four major tournaments with his country - insists the Blues’ stopper has emphatically repaid boss Southgate’s faith in him.
“There is no doubt he was the right choice,” Seaman said. “He’s shown it – and then he’s shown it another 10 times. Not just for his distribution, for the saves that he makes, too.
“I love how athletic he is, he has got a great spring.
“It is how football and goalkeeping has progressed – all the keepers now are very athletic. It is trained into a lot of them, but with Jordan, it is natural.
“And, as we know, he is very comfortable with both feet. He is quick, as well.
“He is very important to the way England want to play. The other goalkeepers are good on the ball, too, but they just don't do it the way Jordan can. He is showing us what he has got.”
Pickford has regularly displayed his quality in possession for Everton, too.
Boss Marco Silva has spoken of how he wants his team “to play from the back” and, in Pickford, Seaman insists the Portuguese has got the perfect goalkeeper to help build attacks.
Pickford signed a new six-year deal with the Toffees last month and Arsenal great Seaman believes this stability offers him the perfect platform to elevate his already-exceptional levels.
“It’s a great statement for the Club and it’s great that Jordan’s excellent form has been recognised,” he said. “Him signing that contract settled the defenders down, they know they have got him there for the foreseeable future.
“He is settled at Everton and the fans love to know their goalkeeper is committed to the club.
“Marco Silva wants to play an attractive style, too, and he can play an important role in that.
“There are still things where he can learn, but he will gain experience. He has played in a World Cup semi-final at the age of 24, it is fantastic.
“His all-round game is brilliant but I see is a guy who is really improving. It’s going to be great to watch how his career progresses.”