Jordan Pickford says he views himself as a leader for club and country, as the goalkeeper declared he can “get better and better” following a stellar season.
Pickford is on international duty with England fresh from a succession of exceptional Everton displays.
His faultless performances during the Premier League run-in were key to the Blues retaining their top-flight status – and his sustained excellence was recognised when he was voted by Evertonians as the Club’s Player of the Season
Pickford, who is in line to make his 44th senior international appearance when the Three Lions take on Hungary on Sunday, explained how he aims to transmit assurance and inspiration to his teammates at Everton and England.
“I see myself as a leader for club and country,” he said.
“All I do is try my best to help my teammates out and when called upon I want to be there to do that.
“I was in good form [during the 2021/22 season].
“I think my consistency levels over the past 18 months have been quite good and I’m really happy with it. I just want to keep getting better and better.
“I’m 28 now, so I’m one of the more senior players and I’ve got a few caps for my country.
“You have to be a leader when you are a bit older and you have that experience. I think I am one of them now.
“I’m quite commanding on the pitch and I’m vocal. I also have that calm demeanour, so I can be calm in every decision I’m making. It looks like I’m pumped up, but I also have that calmness about me.
“I think I’m more mature and I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past four or five years. I believe I’m always improving.”
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WORLD CLASS PICKFORD 2021/22 STANDOUT MOMENTS
Pickford completed an awards double last week when he won the Premier League’s Save of the Season prize.
He was given the accolade for his astonishing double save in Everton’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in May, when he denied Mason Mount’s low drive before scampering across his line to miraculously keep out Cesar Azpilicueta’s effort on the rebound.
His stops preserved Everton’s lead in the match – and ultimately secured Frank Lampard’s team three priceless points.
“That Chelsea game was a massive one for us and to make that save was nice,” Pickford said.
“That’s what you practise on the training ground for every day. That’s what I’m called upon to do – make those big saves in big moments.
“The character shown by the team and myself helped us have a really good end to the season.
“We were in a position we didn’t want to be in, but we can be proud that we got out of the situation.
“It hasn’t been draining for me because I enjoy challenges. I enjoy battles.”
Pickford’s attention now turns to England’s upcoming Nations League encounters, with Sunday’s clash in Hungary followed by heavyweight battles with Germany and Italy.
England will round off their June fixture programme by hosting Hungary at Wembley.
“The next four games are very competitive, and we want to win,” he said.
“You’re playing against some of the best teams and in competitive matches. We want to achieve in these.
“Games like this always give you more experience for the biggest tournaments.”
Pickford memorably scored in a Nations League penalty shootout victory over Switzerland in 2019.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on the horizon, Pickford was asked if he would step up again to take a spot-kick if required.
“It was good to get that experience of taking a penalty [against Switzerland],” he said.
“That was the first one I’d ever taken [in a competitive match].
“You have always got to practise to be perfect and I’ll keep continuing to practise taking them.
“If called upon, I would take one.”