Jordan Pickford has revealed how working with a psychologist has helped him put past struggles behind and take his game to another level ahead of the World Cup with England.
The Everton goalkeeper, who has 45 caps for England and has starred in their last two games in the major tournament, is expected to keep the No. 1 shirt in Qatar after receiving critical acclaim for his performance on club level this season.
Pickford feels he is in the best shape of his career and attributes that in part to the help of a psychologist he has been working with since the 2019/20 campaign.
“I always want to be the best Jordan Pickford I can be,” he said Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett in an in-depth interview.
“I’ve worked hard on and off the field to be the best.
“I work with a psychologist, I get myself in the best physical condition I can be, then goalkeeping takes care of itself.
“I feel like I’ve been in the best mentality for the past two years and I’ve definitely struggled more, improved and had more consistency.
“I feel like I’m only getting better now at my age.”
Pickford, 28, decided to seek the help of a psychologist during a period of poor form at Everton as his performance became increasingly critical.
He feels that it has “changed him as a person”, allowing him to act both calmly and in his characteristic passion.
“It was my idea,” he added. “My agent had mentioned it years ago, but I always felt it was up to me to say it, and I was the one who made the call.
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in the best shape. It was about ‘how can I get better? How can I improve myself and get back to that level?’
“The passion will always be there. I was born with that passion. But talking to the psychologist, it’s about calmness with passion.
“I feel like I’ve been in very good shape for Everton in recent years.
“I had a bad period in 2019/20, but nobody is perfect. It’s about how you come back from your downs and your bad games. I feel like I did.
“I’ve changed as a person and I’ve gotten better over time.”
‘Southgate has always stood by me’
Pickford was supported by England manager Gareth Southgate, who has consistently supported him at senior level and knows him well from his time with the country’s youth teams.
“A few weeks ago, when I was injured, he called me,” Pickford added.
“I wanted to go and be part of the squad [for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany] but all he said was ‘head down, get ready for the World Cup and go back for Everton’.
“I think he knows what I’m capable of and I will always remember being with the U17, in the semi-finals of the European Championship, when I did the match in Serbia.
“He has always supported me, but I also feel that I have always given everything. I always vaccinate and give 100 percent when I am away with the national team.”
‘We are going to Qatar to win’
Pickford admits England will go to Qatar with more pressure and expectation that they reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and finished second at last year’s European Championship, but he says their faith to go all out is unwavering is.
“During the World Cup in Russia there was not much expectation. Now there is expectation and every game is crucial,” he said.
“Ourselves, as a group of guys, the faith will be there. We know we want. We want to go all out and win it.
“You have to beat the best teams to win it. There is no denying that it will be difficult. But we have that confidence in ourselves to get as far as possible in the tournament.”
England’s World Cup squad will be announced on Thursday at 2 p.m.; Follow all the news and reactions live on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Digital with Rob Dorsett answering your questions about England’s confirmed squad on Thursday afternoon