How boy from small north-east town became Three Lions hero

The goalkeeper who broke England’s curse of the penalty shootout: How ‘Picky’ the builder’s son from a small north-east town who’s had the same girlfriend since school became Three Lions’ unlikely hero

  • Jordan Pickford became an overnight sensation as he led England to victory over Colombia in the World Cup
  • The Everton goal keeper, 24, saved Carlos Bacca’s spot-kick to seal the win in Russia for the Three Lions
  • The £90-000 per week Premier League player was watched by doting girlfriend Megan Davison in the stands

He was a small boy in the Sunderland stands when he found his love for football – but last night Jordan Pickford became the player who broke England’s World Cup penalty curse, making him a household name.

The nation erupted as the Everton player denied Colombia a win during the penalty shootout, keeping his composure while millions watched around the world. 

His doting girlfriend Megan also captured the world’s attention as she watched on, urging her childhood sweetheart to make the necessary saves for England to go on and face Sweden on Saturday. 

Pubs, bars and homes in England were ecstatic as the 24-year-old’s left hand became as famous as David Beckham’s right foot. 

But Pickford, relatively unknown by those who do not follow the Premier League, has broken records before.

Sunderland early days fan Pickford posed for a picture as a youngster with Kevin Ball and showed it to him years later when Ball became his coach. His team mates have said they knew he would succeed 

Jordan Pickford as a child: The footballer and Everton star who now stands at 6ft 1in who saved England shared a sweet snap of himself on his Instagram

In his early career Jordan Pickford went on loan six times. Pictured playing for Carlisle. Pickford went from ‘scrawny kid’ to England’s number one for the World Cup in Russia

Jordan Pickford and Megan Davison have been together since they were teenagers and now live together 

Jordan Pickford as a younger player: The Sunderland lad made it to the England squad although his team mates were never in doubt

Last year, he became the most expensive keeper in British history when he joined Everton for £30million, leaving football fans around the nation asking ‘who is Jordan Pickford?’ 

The 6ft 1in goalkeeper known to friends as ‘Picky’ was born in working-class Washington – eight miles from the Stadium of Light.

Pickford grew up a Sunderland fanatic, just like his builder dad, Lee, and his mother, Sue.

The save of his career: England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford stops a penalty shot from Colombia’s Carlos Bacca in the Spartak Stadium, in Moscow

Man of the moment: Pickford’s team mates rushed over to him at the stadium in Russia after his left hand kept them in the tournament

Jordan Pickford’s mum Susan and dad Lee were proud parents last night after their son sealed a victory for England against Colombia

He was a school student at St Robert of Newminster Catholic School when his parents enrolled him into Sunderland’s academy, aged 8. 

There were no goalie positions at the time and the youngster showed his nerve of steel early as he accepted going on loan six times – taking each posting in his stride.  

He played at clubs including Darlington, Alfreton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End. 

He played for his country at junior level aged under-16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21.

Now, he has seven caps for England after being selected for the men’s first team by Southgate. 

The young player’s parents were a driving force in his career success with his mum taking him to training in taxis if his dad was not home with the car.  

Those who know him well say he is a funny, friendly young man with a passion for the game.

‘He’s a typical, down-to-earth local lad, there is no arrogance to him, it’s all confidence,’ says Adrian Tucker, the former Sunderland goalkeeping coach who worked with Pickford after his first-team breakthrough.

Pickford signed his first professional contract with the side in in 2011. Six years later he had made a huge impression on his team – and on bosses at Everton.

The star keeper was officially contracted to the team in 2017 for a five-year stint, and has a confirmed salary of £25million, likely to increase to £30million with add-ons.

Pickford’s pre-match rituals are not well known but he once admitted he used to always eat chicken and pasta from a plastic tub in the back of the car on the way to games. 

Megan Davison and Jordan Pickford have been dating for around eight years after meeting as teenagers at school 

It was a tense moment for Megan as the game went to penalties and the spotlight was on her footballer boyfriend

Megan Davison, 22, was cheering her boyfriend on after travelling to Russia with him from their home in Liverpool. She is a university graduate and Instagram lover

The happy couple! Jordan and Megan have been an item for around eight years after getting together as teenagers 

The loved up couple in the Bahamas: Jordan Pickford and girlfriend Megan Davison have been on exotic holidays since his record-breaking move to Everton 

Jordan Pickford dressed as Ali G for a fancy dress party with his partner Megan Davison. The couple are now celebrating his success in Russia 

An image from 2012 shows the couple together at a 50th birthday party. Jordan now plays for England and Megan graduated university

Watching him in the stands in Russia last night was his doting girlfriend Megan Davison. 

University of Sunderland graduate Megan, 22, and Jordan have been dating since she was 14 and he was 16. 

They now live together in Cheshire’s ‘Golden Triangle’ between Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury, after Pickford signed for Everton.

‘Instagram addict’ Megan, now 22, often posts pictures of herself enjoying champagne and cocktails on beaches around the world, including the Bahamas.

But Pickford has never forgotten his roots, according to Former Sunderland academy boss Kevin Ball.

Ball recalled how Pickford ran to him as a child and asked for his autograph. 

Former team mate George Honeyman remembered his former team mate fondly but said he always knew Jordan would go pro

Jordan Pickford known as ‘Picky’ with Wayne Rooney after signing for Everton and becoming Britain’s most expensive goal keeper

‘He asked for my autograph and a photo and said I was his favourite player,’ remembers Ball, now a club ambassador.

‘He showed me that picture years later and asked if I recognised who was in it. I said, “Well, the handsome one is obviously me, and I’m guessing that scrawny little kid is you?”.’

Former team mate George Honeyman also praised Pickford who he says has always been confident. 

‘I played with him all the way through and he’s always been such a fierce competitor,’ he said.

‘He had his mood swings if he didn’t get his own way, but the main reason he has succeeded is how competitive and aggressive he is.

‘Off the pitch, he’s the life and soul, no-one dislikes him. Everyone says goalkeepers are mad, but he genuinely is, he’s a nutter, in the nicest way.

Jordan Pickford in Russia: The player has been accompanied by his family (including his brother Richard, pictured) to his World Cup debut

Jordan Pickford’s first call up was in 2016 and friend George Honeyman said looking back they knew he would go to the top

‘He loves his boxing, motocross, golf, he’s just a full-on, fun guy to be around.’

 And coach Ball remembers that well. Once, team mates overheard him telling Jordan he wouldn’t make it with his attitude – to which the goalie replied ‘I bet I will’.

 Ball said: ‘He thought he was the best. He knew he had potential and athletic ability. But you have to work hard to achieve that, and he has.

‘He wanted to be in the first-team at 17 and was pushy, but I liked that. He challenged me.’

And, on the morning of his senior debut at Sunderland Pickford called his former coach, just to say thank you. 

Pickford is expected to start in England’s game against Sweden on Saturday.

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