LONDON (AFP) – Jordan Pickford says he would be happy to swap personal accolades for a Euro 2020 winning medal as the England goalkeeper prepares to make history in Saturday’s quarter-final against Ukraine.
Pickford have been one of the unexpected heroes from Gareth Southgate’s team during their march to the last eight.
After a turbulent season with Everton, where the 27-year-old was dropped during a run of costly mistakes, Pickford has found redemption in the European Championships.
His excellent display in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Germany in the last 16 contained two crucial saves before England took the lead.
Pickford has kept four consecutive clean sheets and could surpass Gordon Banks and become the first English goalkeeper to have five consecutive shut-outs at the start of a major tournament if he does not concede against Ukraine.
But while the praise is good after a difficult domestic campaign, Pickford would much rather be able to hold a winning medal in their hands after the final on July 11th.
“There would be nothing better for me than winning a medal with England,” he said when asked if silverware trumped individual success.
“The personal things that take care of themselves. But winning a big trophy with England would be the top. ”
Pickford’s renaissance has come after he was taken over by then-Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, who brought in Robin Olsen to push his first-choice goalkeeper.
A particularly bad mistake saw a shot from Leicester’s Youri Tielemans wind its way through Pickford’s grip in January.
It was the kind of blunder that had come to embody Pickford’s decline when he gained status as a cult hero with the penalty shootout that helped England win a shoot-out against Colombia in the 2018 World Cup.
– ‘Prove them wrong’ –
Yet Pickford never lost his confidence and gradually regained his form and focus after an unwanted magic on the sidelines.
“The personality was always there. It was just about me using myself every day, which I always do, ”he said. “Robin joined the club at Everton last season to push me further.
“It’s always better when there is competition. You will prove them wrong and get better and better.
“Last season was fantastic. Carlo took me out for a few games to rest me and get recharged. I had a few niggles and injuries. It gave me an extra break even though I didn’t want to.
“I came back and I flew. I felt in a great place and just carried it into the England setup. ”
Aside from his key savings, the motive from Pickford’s tournament so far has been his demonstrative discussions with English players during matches.
He has been seen loudly defenders when they do not live up to his expectations, while a debate with John Stones threatened to boil over in England’s victory in the group stage against Croatia.
Pickford is adamant that there has been no damage to his relationship with his teammates when the final whistle blows.
“When I have the ball, it is definitely my decision to make. As long as I make the right decision, we can argue, ”he said.
“I can see the whole course. I just want to provide this added information.
“The audience is ridiculously loud, and it’s hard to get my voice to them. So I have to scream a little louder. We all strive for one thing.
“I do not think it is as heated as you all think. It’s just that my expressions are a little over the top at times. ”