Nigel Martyn backs goalkeeper Pickford to produce World Cup star turn for England

Jordan Pickford has been backed to shine at the World Cup by former England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.

ON SONG (left to right): Gary Cahill, Jordan Pickford and Harry Kane sing the national anthem before the clash with Nigeria at Wembley on Saturday. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Everton forked out a fee rising to £30m to acquire the 24-year-old last summer, making him the most expensive British goalkeeper ever.

He has dealt with the price tag impressively during a frustrating campaign for the Toffees, often proving an assured presence on the ball and a fine shot-stopper.

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Such displays appear to have earned him the starting role for England, with Gareth Southgate choosing him for the penultimate pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria before handing him the No 1 shirt for Russia on Monday.

Former England and Leeds United goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn. Picture submitted.

Former Leeds United goalkeeper Martyn does not see much between him and Jack Butland, but believes Pickford has what it takes to flourish on the global stage.

“Jordan has had an excellent season at Everton,” said Martyn. “He was probably the shining light of a slightly disappointing campaign, so he’ll be going into the tournament full of confidence and would definitely do a good job.

“The same would be said about Jack Butland. In exactly the same way, he’s an excellent goalkeeper and would fit in easily.

“If (Pickford) does get the nod and he plays, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at Everton if he has a really good tournament.”

MEMORIES: Nigel Martyn, pictured with former England team-mate David Seaman ahead of a friendly against Hungary in Budapest during the 1990s. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA.

With Pickford handed the 
No 1 shirt at the World Cup, Stoke goalkeeper Butland has to settle for 13 – the number Martyn wore at four major tournaments.

Back-up to Chris Woods at Euro 92, the 23-cap goalkeeper then played second fiddle to David Seaman at Euro 2000 as well as the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

“You know there’s one space at the start,” the former Everton ’keeper said. “You’re all trying to get in there.

“You’re working on your own so much that you can’t help get to know and like people, and therefore generally speaking goalkeepers all seem to get on. I think there’s a big work-ethic among the goalkeepers and when you’re working with people and watching them train you get a respect between all of you.”

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (right) and Harry Kane share a few words during the friendly clash against Nigeria at Wembley on Saturday. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Martyn also has immense respect for Southgate having seen him at close quarters.

The goalkeeper won 12 of his caps alongside the defender, who he saw come on leaps and bounds during their time together at Crystal Palace.

“When he first came through into the first-team squad at Palace, he was a very intelligent young man,” said Martyn, speaking at the launch of Goals’ Football Revolution campaign in Leeds. “He was a bit shy, a bit nervous, but you could see the intelligence there. Even in his time at Palace, he progressed a long way with his football. He’s football-intelligent as well as being an intelligent guy himself.”

Martyn has been impressed by the way Southgate has taken to the England job, but says he would have taken 75-cap goalkeeper Joe Hart to the World Cup despite concerns over game-time and form.

“Joe Hart was obviously a very difficult decision to go that way,” said the 51-year-old ahead of Thursday’s final warm-up friendly against Costa Rica at Elland Road. “If you did put one of the younger guys in and a bad game happens, then you’ve got somebody you can sort of rely on to fall back on.”

“If I’d have been given the choice at that time, I think yes I would have (taken Hart) but purely only because of the experience angle.

“But I think what Gareth feels with the three goalkeepers he is taking is he’s happy to play any of them and that gives them confidence to go out there and actually perform.”