Jordan Pickford’s former PE teacher says the England star’s ‘fiery personality’ is helping him in his fight for Euro 2024, while his ex-coach reveals he’s not afraid of the ball and sees it as ‘just a bag of air’
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Jordan Pickford’s former PE teacher says the England star’s ‘fiery personality’ is helping him in his fight for Euro 2024, while his ex-coach reveals he’s not afraid of the ball and sees it as ‘just a bag of air’



Jordan Pickford’s “fiery personality” is helping him in goal at the European Championships, according to his former PE teacher, while his former coach admits he is not afraid of the ball.

The 30-year-old Everton goalkeeper was the Three Lions’ hero against Switzerland when he saved a penalty taken by Manuel Akanji in the quarter-final match that went to a penalty shootout.

Pickford has now saved four of the 14 penalties he has faced in major tournament shootouts – twice as many as all previous England goalkeepers between 1990 and 2012.

But it is not divine intervention or luck that is behind Pickford’s success, but psychology and preparation.

Taped to his water bottle was a cheat sheet that had the names of all the Swiss players and instructions on how he should react.

Pickford knew which way to go before Akanji rose to receive the kick.

Now, as Gareth Southgate’s men prepare for their semi-final clash with the Netherlands in Dortmund, his former PE teacher Alan Fisher has revealed how Pickford’s explosiveness helps him to be “excellent in penalty situations”.

Jordan Pickford’s ‘fiery personality’ is helping him play between the sticks at the Euros, says his former PE teacher, while ex-coach reveals he’s not afraid of the ball
His former PE teacher Alan Fisher revealed how Pickford’s explosiveness makes him ‘excellent in penalty situations’

A teacher at St Robert of Newminster Catholic School in Washington state, where Pickford attended from grades seven to 11, told The Times: “His fiery nature definitely comes out. I think that’s what a goalkeeper needs to save the ball. You’ve got to have that attitude of ‘Come on, let’s go!'”

The confidence that Pickford exudes has been with him since childhood.

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Mr Fisher said: “He had that little bit of an edge about him that wanted to be better than the people around him and the opposing team.”

He was always at the front of the lunch line, and his classmates nicknamed him “Speedy” because he was “very temperamental” and “got the hang of things very quickly,” Mr. Fisher said.

Pickford joined the Sunderland academy at the age of eight, where goalkeeping coach Mark Prudhoe oversaw his development for more than a decade.

He compared his arrogance and self-confidence to that of Arsenal and England legend David Seaman.

Regardless of the power of some of the shots he had to face, he defended them with his ear or nose to keep the ball from going into the net.

“He was getting in the way of the ball,” Mr Prudhoe said, adding: “He said, ‘It’s just a bag of air.’”

The 30-year-old Everton goalkeeper was the Three Lions’ hero against Switzerland, saving Manuel Akanji’s penalty during the shootout victory in the quarter-finals
A cheat sheet was taped to his water bottle, containing the names of all the Swiss players and instructions on how he should react.
Pickford knew which way to go before Akanji stood up to receive the kick.
Pickford is surrounded by his team-mates Ivan Toney, Kyle Walker, Trevor Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Ramsdale after his heroics in the quarter-final win over Switzerland
Manchester City defender Akanji watches as Pickford clears the penalty kick

Pickford is now the fourth player in Euro history to have kept the most clean sheets, ahead of legendary goalkeepers Iker Casillas, Edwin van der Sar and Gigi Buffon

Speaking to the media before the quarter-final match, he said that he likes “the pressure and the most important moments of the match.”

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During an interview with ITV after the win over Switzerland, he summed up his England career so far as “memorable” and when asked how much he enjoyed the penalty shootout, he gave it a 10/10 rating.

Pickford said he had no doubt England would win because all their attempts were “perfect” and emphasised that he was a passionate person.

“It’s an honour to play for my country and be number one, it’s a dream come true,” he said.

“I know it’s easy to say, but it gives me the strength to become the best version of myself.”

Yesterday Southgate urged his team to play without fear and create history by becoming the first England men’s team to reach the final of an overseas tournament.

For years, we have listened to challenges and used them as motivation to discover new opportunities.

Pickford during yesterday’s training session at the Spa and Golf Resort Weimarer Land in Blankenhain, ahead of England’s semi-final against the Netherlands at Euro 2012.
Pickford joined Sunderland’s academy at the age of eight, where goalkeeping coach Mark Prudhoe oversaw his development for more than a decade

“We’ve never been to a final outside our own shores. These are opportunities to make a difference and that’s how we have to look at it.

“We don’t want to be burdened by what happened before. We have to use this opportunity to change history as motivation, and that’s how the players see it. It’s about their moment now, nothing that happened in the past. None of this is their fault or their concern.”

Amid criticism of England’s performances and Southgate’s tactics at the Euros, the manager insisted that team spirit was stronger than ever. “This group of players have come together really well over the last three or four weeks,” he said.

‘We were talking about (playing with fear). When you feel that feeling, you have to deal with it. There’s no point in hoping it’ll go away.’

“I had to adjust the way players were looking at things. Maybe it was expectation. Maybe it was a lot of external factors. But now they’re very much in the mindset of, ‘What’s achievable, what’s possible?’