'Why Pickford Is One Of The World's Best'

Neville Southall, Nigel Martyn and former teammate Asmir Begovic have their say on Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, explaining how he continues to impress for Club and country, and how he’s solidified his spot as Three Lions’ No.1 and one of the finest shot-stoppers in football.

Upcoming UEFA EURO Championship qualifiers against North Macedonia and Malta could provide Pickford with another opportunity to further stake an already comprehensive claim to be Gareth Southgate’s keeper for a fourth consecutive major tournament.

Under the current England manager, only Harry Kane (64) has made more starts than Pickford (56), who has repaid Southgate’s faith with consistently strong showings at each of the past three tournaments.

Meanwhile, for Everton, Pickford continues to catch the eye on a regular basis, mixing top-quality saves with excellent distribution, key factors in him scooping numerous Club and fan awards since moving to Merseyside in summer 2017.

Pickford - Recognised And Rewarded For Everton Form

Since joining the Toffees, Pickford, who recently passed 250 Everton appearances, has been a standout for the Club, winning three of Everton’s Player of the Season awards across his six full campaigns.

Asmir Begovic
I think Jordan is one of the best goalkeepers in the world

Last season, the Everton goalkeeper recorded the third most saves (123) in the Premier League, while ranking in the top 10 for save percentage (71.3).

The campaign also saw Pickford - according to expected goals - prevent three goals through his shot-stopping efforts. This was the sixth highest for any Premier League goalkeepers, and per 90 minutes, puts him in the top five.

Neville Southall: No Better English Goalkeeper

NS: "I think the responsibility Pickford has taken on is great and I don’t think anyone is better than him for England. That position is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical. So he’s getting better and he’s doing a really good job.

"Obviously, he’s good under pressure when he plays for England because, I think, if you’re English it’s a totally different ball game.

"Give me a better goalie than him in England who’s English.

"To play 250 games at Everton is obviously good, and as a goalkeeper, you live and die by your decisions. Let’s be honest, if you look at those 250 games, he’s made a lot of right ones and I think he will get even better with experience.

"With that experience comes a slowing down of stuff. You can see it now where he’s just starting to slow down, which is probably a good thing, but you’ve also got to remember that he was a kid in Sunderland’s team. 

"I felt my best at 35 because I knew when I was getting to the ground, what their team was like and what the atmosphere would be like and how the game would go.

"You get to read situations miles better. At 35 I think you’re probably a man, you know, physically you're round about your peak. Experience-wise you have everything physically. He’s got six years and in those six years, it’s up to him."

England’s No.1 - Consistent On The Biggest Stage

At the 2018 World Cup, only two goalkeepers made more saves than Pickford (16), who helped England reach a first semi-final in the competition for 28 years.

Following that, the 2021 European Championships saw the Toffees goalkeeper record the most clean sheets at the tournament, with five, while also registering the highest save percentage, at 88.9 per cent. His performances aided England in their run to a first major tournament final since 1966.

In Qatar in 2022, no goalkeeper recorded more clean sheets than Pickford, who earned three in five games.

Asmir Begovic On ‘One Of The World’s Best’

AB: “I think Jordan is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

“There are certain realities in football. We’re in the most followed sport in the world. When you play for Everton, a historic Premier League club, and England, one of the biggest football nations in the world, then there is a reality that it comes with a level of attention.

“What’s great about Jordan is that he’s aware of that in terms of the responsibility but then it comes down to how you deal with that, and you do that by simply focusing on your work every day.

“It’s a day-to-day process - not looking too far ahead, not getting too far ahead of yourself. Jordan does a great job of compartmentalising it, taking it day to day, week to week and understanding that’s how he’s got himself into the position he is in now.

“Coming to Everton, one of the attractions for me was to work with Jordan, compete with Jordan and, obviously, to push Jordan.

“It honestly was really great to work with him and we formed a great relationship because he’s such a good guy.

“We’ve got a very healthy respect for each other and I’m a big fan of his and what he’s doing right now because he’s performing at such a high level.

Nigel Martyn
Pickford has improved year on year at Everton, and I think that improvement will carry on as long as he’s fit and wants to keep playing at the highest level

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Jordan will continue to get better.

“He’s still young, especially in goalkeeper terms. If he continues working as he does, pushes himself as he does, looks after himself as he does… he’s got many years left at the highest level.

“With goalkeepers, the greater understanding of the game you get from experience is so important and he’ll continue to benefit from that the more games he plays.”

Pickford’s Passing - A Reliable Asset

An increasingly important aspect for the modern goalkeeper – and a requirement for England’s possession-dominant style - Pickford’s proven to be comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Known as a strong kicker, he excels from a range of distances. So far during the 2023/24 Premier League season, he ranks first for most completed long passes (passes further than 30 yards) for any player - outfield or in goal - with 125.

In the previous campaign, only David Raya registered more than Pickford, who completed 342 long passes for Everton.

Shorten the range, and a mistake is rare for the Blues goalkeeper. Since his debut for Everton in the Premier League, Pickford has attempted 798 short passes (five to 15 yards), misplacing just four.

Nigel Martyn On How Pickford Has Earned Southgate’s Trust

NM: "He comes up with big saves in important games that have kept clean sheets or saved a result, and those saves have really helped Everton over the past few years.

"His shot-stopping is probably his biggest asset, but his distribution is very good as well. He kicks the ball a long way, and accurately, too.

"He gets himself set for shots really well and that’s very important. At the point where someone hits the ball, your feet have to be on the ground, and he’s very good at being set for when the shot happens.

"That’s a technical thing that you have to work on, so he does identify the moment when the shot is likely to happen and that helps him with his reflexes and the other attributes he has.

"For England, he looks suited to international football. He’s got the full trust of the manager for both Club and country.

"He is the No.1. That’s how it is, it’s how Gareth (Southgate) sees it, and it’s based on his performances. Since he’s been No.1, he’s played very well, and Gareth is aware of what he’s capable of and trusts him to perform.

"I think he’s improved year on year at Everton, and I think that improvement will carry on as long as he’s fit and wants to keep playing at the highest level."