World Cup 2018: How Jordan Pickford became England’s number one

[su_label type=”info”]SMA News – Agencies [/su_label][su_spacer size=”10″] England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s reputation and profile has soared at this World Cup.
The 24-year-old followed up his penalty shootout heroics in the last-16 tie against Colombia with another stellar display on Saturday to help Gareth Southgate’s side overcome Sweden and reach their first World Cup semi-final for 28 years.
In the space of a year he has gone from Premier League relegation with home-town club Sunderland to the national team’s undisputed number one.
So how has the now Everton keeper emerged as a key component of an England side 90 minutes away from their first World Cup final since 1966?
Pickford, who had worked with Southgate at England Under-21 level, was pencilled in as his manager’s number one long before this World Cup – but he has still played only 156 league games in his career.
He came to prominence in June 2017 when Everton paid Sunderland £30m for him, happily meeting the Black Cats’ asking price as a serious investment for the future.
But Pickford had proved willing to go out and learn his trade in the toughest surroundings before playing in the Premier League – an experience that moulded the confident, strong character we have witnessed in Russia.
He had the rough edges knocked off him in non-league football with Darlington and Alfreton, where no allowances were made for youth, and he recalls: “I learned quite a lot from getting battered by fully grown blokes. You got really battered going for crosses.
“You’d go to away grounds and hear everything shouted at you. I remember being at Southport going for a drink of water and one old bloke shouts ‘hey you lad – your grandad is under that grass.’ I just turned around, gave him the thumbs-up and said ‘nae problem.'”
Pickford, who also had loan spells in the English Football League with Burton, Carlisle, Bradford and Preston, has had his size questioned – he is relatively short for a modern goalkeeper at 6ft 1in – but no-one can question his courage.
And the agility and elasticity that have served England so well in Russia have made a nonsense of worries about his height.

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