JORDAN PICKFORD uses his Euros silver medal to inspire the “hunger” to win the first major trophy of his career.
While some players can barely bear to look at runners-up gongs, the Everton goalkeeper regards the relic of summer 2021 as the signs of England’s development and a spur to going one better in Qatar.
Pickford said: “It’s at my mam and dad’s house.
“Other players don’t like them but I think it is a progression.
“It is a hunger to say that you have got the runners-up medal — it’s a hunger wanting to go and get the winners’ medal.
“You know what it takes to get to the final, now what’s the next step? So I think it is always good to have a look at. I’m positive about it, not negative.”
Pickford, at the age of 28 and into his sixth season at Everton, knows it is a challenge to bring silverware to Goodison Park.
He said: “For club and country, you play football to win silverware.
“Yet you know how tough the Premier League is at the moment.
“We got knocked out of the League Cup against Bournemouth last week but have still got the FA Cup to come.
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“As a footballer, there is nothing better than getting a medal.
“The last two tournaments we didn’t get over the finish line but we’ve made massive strides as a nation and as a group of players.
“We’ve tasted defeat in both of them. But we know what it takes to get that far.
“We know how tough it is to win the World Cup but our main aim is to win the tournament.
“We’ve got the ability and the mental strength in the team.”
If England are to challenge in Qatar, the team will need to regain the defensive stability that helped Pickford keep five clean sheets and concede just two goals in seven games at the Euros.
He said: “It’s huge. Clean sheets, keeping zeroes and ones in tournament football gives you a great chance of winning games.”
Pickford has recorded only three shutouts in 14 Premier League appearances for Everton this term.
Pickford said: “The buzz for me in representing your country is massive.
“I think every time I pull on an England shirt I play well.
“But in tournament football the spotlight is on you constantly and I feel like I will step up to the plate when called upon.”
And that will be on Monday, starting against Iran.
Pickford and his team-mates are champing at the bit to get going, because of, rather than despite, the quick turnaround from club football.
He said: “Normally, you have a 20-25 day lead into the first game.
“We’ve had a week, we are fresh off the back of games at club level. I think we are all really excited to get going.”
Skipper Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner in the opening game against Tunisia four years ago feels like a sliding doors moment for Southgate’s England.
Without it, who knows what might have happened.
Pickford said: “That was a big hurdle for us to overcome, getting that winner in the first game.”
Another positive start this time around would be very welcome.