You shouldn’t yet compare Jordan Pickford with Peter Shilton or David Seaman, who had 15 years or more at the top, but his success in Russia has not surprised me.
And what may have been forgotten amidst the rest of the euphoria of England reaching a World Cup semi-final was that Saturday saw Jordan keep his first clean sheet of the tournament – and that will be a massive confidence boost.
The Everton keeper made three stand-out saves. The first and third, from Marcus Berg, were both good saves but if he’d conceded, you’d be asking questions.
England’s Jordan Pickford has been one of the best three or four goalkeepers at the World Cup
Pickford kept his first clean sheet of the tournament in England’s 2-0 victory over Sweden
However, the second stop, when he got down low to his right to keep out Viktor Claesson’s shot one-handed was the best of the bunch.
Ironically, in a game where his kicking wasn’t at its normal extremely high standard, he showed he does the bread and butter of goalkeeping extremely well in a big-match situation.
I know there has been talk of Jordan not being as big as other goalkeepers in the modern era but, in my opinion, you don’t have to be a certain height to be called world-class. Absolutely not.
Not that it’s right to give Jordan this status yet. He is so new in his journey as an England goalkeeper. What he has done is make an excellent success and contributed a real lot to what England have achieved.
In many ways, people would say England’s tournament has already been a success, but I have a feeling there is more to come. And most of England has that feeling too.
Jordan has looked comfortable in a pressured situation and a lot of credit for that has to go to his team-mates and his manager Gareth Southgate, a former team-mate of mine at Middlesbrough.
Three Lions stopper Pickford made a fine diving save to his left as John Stones watched on
Pickford also got down well to his right to keep Sweden’s attackers at bay at the Samara Arena
I know from experience that when you are part of a good defensive unit, where you and the defenders know your respective jobs, believe in each other and complement each other, it gives you a huge sense of well-being when you go onto the pitch.
As a goalkeeper, it makes a big difference to feel the manager really backs you rather than having it in the back of your mind that one mistake and you could be dropped.
Gareth looked at Jordan in the warm-ups and decided he was the right No 1 for England. And Jordan hasn’t disappointed.
He’s right up there in the group of three or four keepers that have performed best at the World Cup, though I selected South Korea’s Cho Hyun-Woo as the best goalkeeper of the group stages.
Kicking is one area in which Pickford usually excels, although his distribution was slightly off
But Pickford did the bread and butter of goalkeeping extremely well in a big-match situation
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.