England nearly ended their international trophy drought by reaching the finals of Euro 2020, but they succumbed to a painful defeat to Italy in the end. The Three Lions were outstanding from the beginning of the tournament, courtesy of a handful of players who made their presence felt. One such star is goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who had the best international tournament following the 2018 World Cup. From making stunning reflex saves to holding his nerves in the penalty shootout, the Everton shot-stopper gave everything he could, but that proved insufficient on the whole for Gareth Southgate’s side. Pickford’s revival would be one of the biggest takeaways of the tournament, but it is also a reply to the critics who doubted him.
Pickford’s hard times at Goodison Park
Pickford made his switch to Goodison Park in 2017 and has since been serving as the first choice keeper for the Toffees. Despite being highly talented, he was highly scrutinized for his frequent errors that have overshadowed his brilliance. Perhaps the Toffees faithful would agree with the fact that Pickford wasn’t their loved player due to his inconsistency on the pitch. Although he had breathed fresh air in between with an impressive showing for the national team in the 2018 World Cup, his club form remained a subject to criticism.
Reviving himself under Carlo Ancelotti
Despite the overwhelming critics, Pickford remained the Toffees’ primary keeper and Carlo Ancellotti, who became the new manager last year, also had a lot of faith in him. Perhaps, the Italian’s backing helped Pickford come to his own as he enjoyed a brilliant 2020/21 season. Although his record of 10 clean sheets was not anywhere near the top five, the former Sunderland man enjoyed arguably his best season with the Toffees since his arrival. Pickford made a truckload of saves against top clubs, and some of them were eye-catching and acrobatic. Whether it was the double save against Chelsea stars Timo Werner and N’Golo Kante or denying Jordan Henderson’s long-range effort in the Merseyside derby, Pickford never looked out of sorts.
A breathtaking Euro 2020 campaign
Reverence from fans to Pickford must have grown high after a sensational European Championship campaign. He mustered a total of 5 clean sheets – which saw him win the Golden Glove award – and some of his best performances came against Germany and Italy. Against the Germans in the quarter-finals, Pickford denied an effort from Timo Werner initially before making a quick reflex save against Kai Havertz’s strike. The Toffees star’s best display came in the finals against Azzurri, although he ended up on the losing side. Although England were losing control of the game in the penalty shootout, Pickford kept Southgate’s men alive by making two crucial saves that included an intelligent save against prominent penalty taker Jorginho.
The Three Lions have been left devastated with the outcome in the final, and it was once again so close yet so far for them. But credits have to be given for the players who put their hearts out that includes Pickford. The Blues keeper has raised his standards following the European Championship, and now he will look to continue his form at Everton.