Ex-Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford has called on England Under-21s to harness their penalty pain and return stronger for Euro 2019 – or gatecrash the senior squad.
The Young Lions crashed out of the European Championship 4-3 on penalties after an enthralling semi-final against Germany had ended 2-2 in Tychy on Tuesday.
New Everton signing Pickford, along with Nathan Redmond, captain James Ward-Prowse and Nathaniel Chalobah, ended his Under-21 careers in Poland, while others will have another shot at European glory in two years’ time.
“We’re all disappointed, but we have a lot of lads who will have the chance to come again to the tournament in two years and then there’s others like myself who have to try and kick on and get in the senior squad,” said the 23-year-old from Washington (pictured).
“Everybody is going to be hungry. We all want to get better as a group and individually. We did ourselves proud even though we didn’t get to the final.
“As a group of lads and the staff, we’ve stuck together from day one and it just wasn’t to be in the penalty shoot-out.
“We’ve done our bit and that’s all we could have done.”
Looking back on the penalty drama, in which he made the first save, Pickford, who joined Everton for £30million from Sunderland earlier this month, added: “It’s always going to be difficult to take.
“Penalty shoot-outs are never a nice way to lose and on another day we might have won it.
“During 90 minutes, I thought we were the dominant side, especially during the first half.
“We were a bit tired towards the end, but we dug in and we’ve said all along we’re a strong group of lads who are there to help each other when it’s going hard. it was unfortunate.”