When he joined the Sunderland football academy only aged eight (8) not many people would have expected Jordan Pickford to enjoy such a meteoric rise in such a short time.
To fine tune his goalkeeping talents Pickford was loaned to Darlington, Alfreton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston all relatively ‘unknown’ football teams in the lower tiers of the British football league.
At the end of his excursion with those lower tier teams Pickford made his first-team debut for Sunderland in a 3-1 FA Cup defeat by Arsenal in January 2016. Since then, Pickford never looked back as he surprised all and sundry by relegating the more established Vito Mannone to the bench for virtually the entire 2016-17 season.
Pickford made 29 outstanding Premier League appearances last season but could not prevent Sunderland being relegated.
In fact, his performances between the sticks were so good that were it not for him Sunderland could have been relegated from the Barclays Premier League earlier than they did.
Building up quietly and patiently
To this day, it boggles my mind why goalkeepers are not afforded as much recognition as other footballers who play in different positions.
However, Pickford who has been building his reputation albeit silently and has already represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-20 and under-21 levels seems bent to change that anomaly .
In fact at the time of writing this article Pickford is representing the England under 21s as they contest in the Euro Championships being hosted by Poland.
It is pertinent to mention that in the recently concluded 2016-17 Barclays Premiership season Pickford made more saves per game than any other goalkeeper.
It came as no surprise therefore that on the 13th of April 2017; Pickford was named as one of six players shortlisted for the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Although Dele Alli eventually scooped that award, Pickford had already left a mark and announced his presence.
To confirm his growing reputation Pickford, at only 23 years of age, was immediately snapped up by Everton on the 15th June 2017, on a five-year contract.
Interestingly, Jordan Pickford has become the most expensive British keeper in history after Everton paid £25m which rose with add-ons to a club record £30m leaving relegated Sunderland smiling all the way to the bank.
Engraving his name in the record books
In addition, the £30m signing on figure has made Pickford the third most expensive goalkeeper in history, after Juventus’ legend Gianluigi Buffon and Manchester City’s recent signing Ederson. Pickford also becomes Everton’s most expensive signing and perhaps more stunningly the most expensive British goalkeeper of all time!
When one considers some of the great goalkeepers to emerge from England such as Peter Shilton, David Seaman, Paul Robinson, David James and Joe Hart to mention but a few, the assertion that goalkeepers have for long been underrated in the transfer market is corroborated.
However, on the flip side, the rise of this promising goalkeeper is a good omen for the England national team that has struggled to find established heirs to the great Peter Shilton and David Seaman who both represented England admirably.
With Joe Hart seemingly struggling for form, perhaps this is the time for England to look at elevating Pickford to that position, after all his maturity was seen by all in Sunderland colours last season.
In fact Pickford is so highly rated by this writer to the extent that I felt he should have been bought by Chelsea instead considering that Thibaut Courtois does not seem settled at Chelsea.
I remember at the beginning of the season he had an indifferent attitude towards Chelsea and already there are rumours that contract extension talks are stalling over his wage demands?
Ronald Koeman has really made a good signing here and barring any injuries and an unexplained loss of form Jordan Pickford looks destined for greatness. Only time will tell.
Written by Spencer Joubert
Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerJoubert
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