JORDAN PICKFORD uses his Euro silver medal to whet the ‘hunger’ to win the first major trophy of his career.
While some players find it hard to bear the sight of the runners-up, the Everton goalkeeper sees the relic of summer 2021 as a sign of England’s development and a spur to do even better in Qatar.
Pickford conceded just two goals at last year’s European Championship[/caption]
Pickford said: “It’s at my mum and dad’s house.
“Other players don’t like them, but I think it’s an evolution.
“It’s a hunger to say you’ve got the runners-up medal – it’s a hunger to go and get the winner’s medal.
“You know what it takes to get to the finals, now what’s the next step? So I always think it’s good to take a look. I’m positive, not negative.”
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Pickford, aged 28 and in his sixth season at Everton, knows bringing cutlery to Goodison Park is a challenge.
He said: “For club and country you play football to win cutlery.
“Yet you know how tough the Premier League is at the moment.
“We were eliminated from the League Cup against Bournemouth last week but the FA Cup is yet to come.
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“As a footballer, there is nothing better than getting a medal.
“In the last two tournaments we haven’t made it across the finish line, but we’ve made tremendous progress as a nation and as a group of players.
“We both lost. But we know what it takes to get this far.
“We know how difficult it is to win the World Cup, but our main goal is to win the tournament.
“We have the ability and the mental strength in the team.”
If England are to travel to Qatar, the team will need to regain the defensive stability that helped Pickford keep five clean sheets and concede just two in seven games at the European Championship.
He said: “It’s huge. Keeping a clean sheet, keeping 0s and 1s in tournament football gives you a great chance of winning games.”
Pickford has recorded just three shutouts in 14 Premier League games for Everton this season.
But he has an excellent record under Gareth Southgate, which is why he is reluctant to challenge Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Newcastle’s Nick Pope.
Pickford said: “The excitement for me to represent your country is tremendous.
“I think every time I put on an England shirt I play well.
“But in tournament football you’re constantly in the spotlight and I feel like I’ll step on the plate if I’m asked to.”
And that will be on Monday, starting against Iran.
Pickford and his team-mates are dying to get started, more because of than despite the rapid turnaround in club football.
He said: “Usually you have a 20-25 day lead in the first game.
“We’ve had a week, we’re fresh from playing at club level. I think we are all very excited to get started.”
Skipper Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner in the opening game against Tunisia four years ago feels like a sliding-doors moment for Southgate’s England.
Without her, who knows what would have happened.
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Pickford said, “That was a big hurdle we had to overcome to get that first game winner.”
Another positive start this time would be very welcome.