England star Jordan Pickford thanks former clubs Sunderland, Preston and Carlisle

England star Jordan Pickford has thanked his former clubs for the part they have played in his development.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford has been his country’s first-choice stopper since the last World Cup in 2018, and started every game at last year’s European Championships and the tournament opener against Iran on Monday.

The 28-year-old Washington-born stopper began life at Sunderland, riding through the ranks at the Academy of Light to the first team with several loan moves in between, including a successful stint at Preston North End during the 2015-16 season.

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Speaking to the EFL, Pickford said of the move: “For me, it was the best thing I could ever do, going out on loan at a young age and develop. You learn about yourself so much as a person and you’ve got to get stuck in early doors as a player. To have that mentality at such a young age, you learn early.

Jordan Pickford of England gestures during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match against IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium.

“The EFL is a great environment for a young player because it helps you massively. All those clubs were great loan spells to get me to where I am today and that’s definitely helped me in my career. Those clubs were amazing for me.“Going to Preston was the final bridge I needed to cross in the Championship.

“That was my best loan move as a 21-year-old, going and playing and keeping loads of clean sheets. That got me ready for the Premier League.

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“One of my best spells was when I was at Preston. I kept a record number of clean sheets for Preston. I was on a seven clean sheet spell. Alan Kelly, my goalkeeping coach at Preston, is now my goalkeeping coach at Everton.

"The Preston one was the move where I knew I was ready. I was playing really good football and I had a really good time there.”

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Pickford also had loans with Darlington and Alfreton Town in non-league, and then Burton Albion in League Two. The goalkeeper then moved on to Carlisle United and Bradford City in League One.

Preston North End in the Championship followed before returning to Sunderland to cement himself as first choice as the Black Cats were relegated.

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In 2017, Pickford signed for Everton on a five-year contract. The initial fee of £25 million, with the possibility of rising to £30 million in add-ons, making him the third most expensive goalkeeper in history at the time.

"The support I received along the way was amazing. The support from the fans at every loan club I went to,” Pickford said regarding his former clubs. I interacted well with the fans and my performances, by giving 100% on a matchday and trying my best for them, I think they bought into that and they were very supportive of me.

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“I want to say thanks to my former clubs for giving me the opportunity to develop as an up-and-coming goalkeeper and make my dream come true of playing for England and in the Premier League. I appreciate the time they took.”