Jordan Pickford: ‘It’s about staying on your feet, but hopefully my save will prove vital’ | Jordan Pickford

Seasons can be activated at any given time, for better or for worse. Jordan Pickford’s brilliance in Everton’s hard-fought victory over Chelsea could provide his side with a springboard to beat the decline.

After Mason Mount’s drilled shot beat a diving Pickford and bounced inside one post and over the other before falling into César Azpilicueta’s path, it seemed a certain goal. However, the keeper jumped off the ground and dived full length to push the ball away and save three valuable points.

When Pickford stood up, chest bulging, blood pumping and mouth roaring, Goodison was elated, knowing they had witnessed a backup of the season’s contender. “Hopefully when we look back five games it has a bit of a legacy,” says Pickford at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground.

“For me, it’s always nice to have that saving legacy, but I’m a team player, a club player, and it’s about standing up. We have five games, we have to focus on each individual game, but I will look back on the end of the season with a smile on my face and say it was three vital points and a superb save.

It wasn’t his only significant save of the game; a point-blank shot from Antonio Rüdiger was less gracefully fended off after the ball hit Pickford’s face. “I don’t know if I remember, it was so hard. I still have a headache now,” jokes Pickford. “That’s goalkeeping, getting in the way of the ball. You’re still doing technical work day in and day out but the main thing is to stop the ball going into the net as best you can and however that turns out it’s vital for the team .

Jordan Pickford blocks Antonio Rüdiger’s close-range shot with his face – ‘I still have a headache now’. Photography: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Last Sunday’s win over Chelsea narrowed the gap to 17th-placed Leeds to two points with one game less. Everton face a trip to Leicester on Sunday which gives the team the chance to climb out of the relegation zone. Pickford will almost certainly be called up again to help a side who have had just six away points all season.

Frank Lampard’s side then travel to relegated Watford on Wednesday and will hope to have improved their away points tally by the time they host Brentford next Sunday.

“It’s a position we’re not supposed to be in, but we are. We have to live with it and have the balls to get out of it and get up and be counted out to win games.

Pickford will be key to the club’s remaining five games, not only for his saves but also for his leadership qualities. The 28-year-old is maturing as a player and a man, aided by his reliance on a psychologist. “I felt it was an important part of learning about myself and maturing. When I first started using it, it was a huge help. I think sometimes people don’t don’t know who they are until they step back and think about what they’ve done.

Pickford is England’s first-choice goalkeeper and accepts the responsibilities that come with the title. Lampard handed Pickford the captain’s armband in Séamus Coleman’s absence at Burnley, a sign of his position in the team.

“It was great. I always say you need more than one captain in the team; Séamus is the captain of the club but you need leaders to help Séamus, you need leaders to help the team. If you had 11 leaders on the field that would be amazing but you have to lead your way I feel like I’m trying to be a leader my way Sometimes it looks like I’m screaming ridiculously but it’s It’s talking and giving information and trying to lead that way. The more leaders you have on the team, the better.

Extra aggression has been noticeable in recent Everton games and Pickford’s fiery nature is part of his style, but he maintains a balance between the sticks. “You have to be in the moment. I know I like to be excited, but it’s about keeping that emotion with a cool head. I want to be who I am, but I want to be a calm figure that I feel like I have been for the past 18 months.

The experience of participating in relegation battles earlier in his career will help Pickford at this late stage of the season. “I was in that situation with Sunderland,” Pickford said. “We stayed awake and it was a great feeling. It was a struggle. It was hard work from each of the guys. It was like winning something. It was a great relief and a great reward. It’s tough where we are. But the relief you take can be good. The victory over Chelsea was very important, so now we focus on Leicester.

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