If you Googled Jordan Pickford lately, you may have noticed that his height (6’1”) was trending. Why?
Because Thibaut Courtois broke the unwritten goalkeepers’ code by strangely claiming that he would have made the save that Pickford missed in the game against Belgium because he is taller (Insert eye roll here and obvious jokes about him missing two against Japan). There have also been questions from Arsene Wenger regarding Pickford’s experience and from Gary Neville about which hand he uses.
“I did all my research. I’ve got power and agility. I don’t care if I’m not the biggest keeper because it’s about being there in the moment and making the save and I was.
“It’s all about the set position and I got a hand to it. Our mindset and mentality, we never stopped. We knew we had this game, even if it had to go to penalties, we knew we were capable of winning.”
And what does that mental strength look like?
Here are the top five times Jordan Pickford proved that not only can he take it, he can dish it out too, with a cherry on top:
5. Even his veteran backup has praised Pickford’s confidence
Everton’s backup keeper, Maarten Stekelenburg, has worked closely with Pickford and knows all about his mental toughness:
“Jordan has a lot of self-belief and is so focused. You need those qualities if you want to perform to the level he is capable of reaching. And I know what he is capable of after training with him for a year.
“Jordan talks all the time, which helps his defenders and helps him as well.
“He does not panic and he works hard. He will not be bothered by anything.”
Kids all over England rolling out of the barbers tomorrow be like pic.twitter.com/AsG0fFd1Iw— Roker Report (@RokerReport) July 3, 2018
4. Jordan Pickford was playing non-league football only a few years ago ago
Despite the lowly nature of where he was playing, he didn’t take some brutal smack talk lying down, laughing in the face of it:
“You were always going to get the daft comments from someone in the stands behind you.
“I remember playing for Darlington at Southport and this fella said some unkind things about me grandad! I just laughed it off and got on with the game. That’s the kind of lad I am - nothing really affects me!”
3. He makes even the toughest managers melt
You know how in the movies, there’s always that one scene where a brave employee stands up to a mean boss and inexplicably the mean boss says, “You have a lot of nerve… but I like it! You’re promoted!” and you think to yourself, “That doesn’t happen in real life.”
Well, guess what? Jordan Pickford has made that happen his entire life:
Exhibit A: Testimony from former Everton manager and renown smack talker, Sam Allardyce:
“He is 23, going on 30, so he is very mature for his age and he takes responsibility. He sometimes looks at me and says, ‘What you talking to me like that for, I’m a great goalkeeper.’ Which I quite like!”
Exhibit B: More evidence, from Kevin Ball, Sunderland’s former academy manager:
“When he was in goal, the centre halves would split, hoping to take the ball from him but he’d just ping it upfield perfectly. I’d say ‘play it out Jordan, let them do it,’ but he’d reply ‘why? I’m better than them.’ He wasn’t being a pain, just honest. Jordan has confidence in his ability and his opinions. He’ll challenge you, he’ll say ‘I don’t agree’. I like that.”
Exhibit C: Further evidence, from Sunderland player, George Honeyman:
“We were away at Blackburn and Bally [former Sunderland academy boss Kevin Ball] was giving Jordan a bit of stick for one of their goals. Bally had a habit of it being his way or the highway and they started arguing. Bally said, ‘You’ll never make it with that attitude.’ Jordan just stared straight back at him and said, ‘I bet I will.’
“Normally when Bally was shouting at players they’d wither and cave in. Not Jordan - he dared him to bet against him. We knew then that it would be Jordan who was proved right.”
2. Pickford trolled away fans in person and then trolled them again online
Near the end of Everton’s season, Newcastle United fans were giving Pickford nonstop stick by chanting about his old team Sunderland and booing every time he touched the ball. Not smart. Because when Theo Walcott scored to put Everton ahead, Pickford rushed to the Newcastle fans and celebrated jubilantly, tongue out and all. Later, he shushed them and told them to be quiet as Everton went on to win the game.
To top it off, the lifelong Black Cats fan posted a photo of him celebrating in front of the away fans on Instagram with the caption, “No better feeling than keeping them quiet.” Absolutely savage!
Everyone says that penalty shoot outs are mostly mental. Well, Jordan Pickford is your man because he’s f*****g mental.
The Pickford save on Bacca is pure class. pic.twitter.com/PA26lE6QbO— AgentHades (@AgentHades) July 3, 2018
Courtois et al. are really just stirring the beast in Pickford by talking smack. No matter that Pickford appears to have more critics in his own country than his rivals, none of that gets to him.
England could possibly meet Belgium again in the World Cup final and if so, Mr. Courtois, you better watch out.