Jordan Pickford has had a brilliant tournament.
If I’m honest, when the choice was between Pickford and Jack Butland before the World Cup, I’d have probably gone with Jack because he was a bit more consistent for me.
However, Gareth gave the number one shirt to Pickford and as soon as he did that I thought ‘wow, that’s a great compliment’. Terry Venables did it with more before Euro 96 and said ‘you’re my number one’.
That was brilliant for me, it give me a lot of confidence and I went on to do what I did in that competition.
Pickford in the mix for the top six
Pickford’s had some great games, stunning saves and won a penalty shootout. Which is not only brilliant for him as a keeper, but for all of England as well.
Although my 22-year-old record of being the last goalie to save a penalty at a major tournament is gone too now, I’m gutted over it.
In all seriousness though, he just needs to keep improving now and that’s what he’ll do. He’s at a great age of just 24 too.
He probably will end up at top six team if he keeps progressing like he’s just shown. He’ll make it hard for the big clubs to ignore him.
He needs that challenge because he’s hasn’t even played Champions League football yet. He’s just skipped that and gone straight to the World Cup and showed he can do it there.
Big thing expected for The Three Lions
It was a great World Cup for us, but the only thing is now the expectation will be bigger the next time England play in a major tournament.
Everyone says about this side that they were young and inexperienced, but the expectations will be higher now for them.
They’ll have to learn lessons from the World Cup, but they’ve also got to improve because as we saw they came up against a Croatia team that was full of experience with some really good players as well, and we found it hard to break them down.
When you look at it, England appear to have a great foundation to work with to build on and get better though. Only time will tell with them.
What they’ll have learned the most about each other and themselves is that they can play under pressure. We caved in massively under it against Iceland in Euro 2016 and not just young players, I’m talking about England internationals with a vast amount of experience who bottled it.
But, these lads will now know they can cope with that pressure and they can win penalty shootouts too! That ghost has gone now.
What Gareth Southgate does next
Just like the squad, Gareth Southgate is learning as well. He’s only been in the job a couple of years.
He’s obviously brought in what he learned in Euro 1996 and in the 1998 World Cup, and he’s put that into the squad by not letting people get carried away. The way he’s presented himself has been magnificent.
He’s kept the pressure off the lads and he’ll want to take that on to the next level.
That next stage is Euro 2020 now and it could be difficult. I don’t believe we’ll get an easier draw than what we had this time, but that’s just the way it fell.
We couldn’t do anything about that, but we’ve got to keep moving forward and that’s going to be the hardest thing do – keeping that progression going.