Jordan Pickford says he is a changed man and one who is now ready to help lead England to World Cup glory in December. “I see myself as a leader for club and country, and all I do is try my best to help my team-mates out,” he said. “So when called upon, I am there to do it. I’m 28 now, so definitely one of the senior players now, and I’ve got quite a few caps as well added up.
“And, yes, I firmly believe we can win the World Cup. Obviously, it is going to be challenging against the best teams in the world but it is about us having belief in ourselves.
“We’ve come so far and had the disappointment in the World Cup semi-final and Euro final – that disappointment drives us. The disappointment is getting so close and losing, getting to the final and losing. We are proud of what we have achieved but when you get that close it gives you that added extra confidence to go and win the World Cup.”
It has taken Pickford a long time to shrug off pundits’ early doubts about his consistency, although he himself feels his consistency levels have been “really good for 18 months”. The numbers back that up. Type “Jordan Pickford mistake” into Google and it takes just 0.45 seconds to find 1.12m references.
As he prepares to go into this Nations League campaign starting against Hungary in Budapest on Saturday, that subject is left well in the past. But Pickford does admit to a greater “calmness” since his more reckless early days as an England international.
“There has been a big change,” he said. “I am more mature. I have learned a lot about myself in those last four to five years. Definitely feel a lot better now than I did then. I think I am always improving and I am always getting better.
“It’s always going to be the same really, that’s me, I’m always going to be the same character when I’m playing football, whether it’s for club or country. I am commanding on the pitch and quite vocal but I also have that calm demeanour and try to make the right decision at the right time. It looks like I am pumped up but I have that calmness about me as well now.”