One of England’s stars this World Cup has been Everton Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with some outstanding displays against Colombia and Sweden. With long standing England regularly under performing in the past two years the number one jersey was up for grabs. Pickford and Stoke’s Jack Butland were the front runners but Gareth Southgate gave the nod to Pickford for England’s opening game against Tunisia and since then he has gone from strength to strength in this tournament.
Born in Washington, Tyne & Wear in the North of England, he came through the ranks at Sunderland but had plenty of loan spells in the lower leagues of English football and even playing in non-league. He became Sunderland’s number one at the start of the 2016-17 season when Vito Mannone was seriously injured in training. Pickford was in inspired form that season; turning heads from teams at the other end of the table. Despite this form he was unable to prevent Sunderland from being relegated. He was shortlisted for the PFA young player of the year.
In June 2017 Everton signed Pickford for £30 million which made him the third most expensive goalkeeper in history, he carried on his form from the previous season and got his first England cap in November 2017 in a friendly against Germany in which he kept a clean sheet. He was also named Everton’s player of the season.
He has been vital for England’s success at the World Cup this year with his distribution and confidence on the ball; a trait Gareth Southgate wants his goalkeepers to have. Despite being a bit smaller (6ft 1in) than most modern day goalkeepers, which is something Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said after the teams group game. What he lacks in height he makes up for it with power and agility which was showed in England’s round of 16 match against Colombia with a truly outstanding save in the last moments of regular time.
Also in the penalty shootout he saved Carlos Bacca’s penalty spectacularly to help get rid of England’s penalty hoodoo. He put in a man of the match display against Sweden in the Quarter Final with three great saves and this ensured that the Three Lions are in a World Cup semi final for the first time since 1990.