Men's Under 21s
Men's Under 21s
The FA

Pickford plays down penalty save

Goalkeeper modest in assessment of Sweden save, as Young Lions target Euro progress

Saturday 17 Jun 2017

Jordan Pickford played down his penalty heroics as England Under-21s kicked-off their Euro campaign with a draw against Sweden.

The Young Lions goalkeeper kept out Linus Wahlqvist’s late spot-kick to earn a 0-0 draw in Kielce on Friday and get Aidy Boothroyd’s side up and running in Group A.

Slovakia v England
  • UEFA European U21 Championship Finals
  • Group A
  • 5pm BST, Monday 19 June 2017
  • Kielce Stadium, Poland
  • Live on Sky Sports

But Pickford, who sealed a record-breaking transfer from Sunderland to Everton two days before the game, was honest enough in his assessment of the role a goalkeeper plays in saving penalties.

“It’s pot luck sometimes, but I was confident,” he said.

“You practice but when it comes down to it you never know where their lad’s going to go. It’s guessing to a degree but you go with your instincts.

“It’s a 50-50 chance, you never know but I enjoy it.

“You don’t know how confident or nervous he’s going to be before he takes it.

“He might have been nervous or I might have made him change his mind.

“I held my ground and didn’t dive until late. I’ve made that big save at the big moment. It’s what I keep saying – I make big saves.

“I wasn’t expecting one. I’ve been practising, but big game, big moment, big save.”

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With one point on the board, England now turn their attentions to Monday’s opponent Slovakia, who top the group after a 2-1 win over Poland in their first game.

Pickford believes two wins from the remaining two games will be good enough to see the Young Lions into the semi-final and knows his team-mates can only get better from here.

“I think we can play a lot better but we still got a draw and we can still get through,” he said.

“We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves, we need to win two games. We’ve got Slovakia and then the hosts on Thursday in front of a packed house.

“That’s going to be an interesting game, but that’s what we’re here for. That’s why we’re playing big matches.”

Of course, it’s the form he showed against Sweden which prompted Everton to spend £30m on his services with Pickford undergoing a medical in Poland on Wednesday before completing the deal the following day.

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And anyone who knows the modest 23-year-old will recognise his humble approach to the game in the way he dealt with the switch.

“I’m just a lad who likes playing football. I’m not bothered about anything else,” he admits.

"It’s just a number isn’t it? It doesn’t affect me. It’s my job to be a goalkeeper and keep the ball out of the net and that’s what I’ve done.

“I didn’t know too much about it until I came out here, but I got the deal out of the way and over the line so I could focus on the Euros.

“When I heard about it and they said they were sorting the medical so it could go through, it’s nice to get it out of the way.”

England's second game at the Euros takes place at 5pm on Monday evening, when they play Slovakia at the Kielce Stadium, live on Sky Sports.

By Nicholas Veevers in Kielce, Poland