England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s character and quality has already made him one of Europe’s best, according to former manager David Unsworth.
The former Toffees defender worked with the 24-year-old briefly as caretaker boss last season in the period between Ronald Koeman’s sacking and Sam Allardyce’s appointment.
Unsworth feels Pickford’s performances at the World Cup, where he made one brilliant save against Colombia and was a hero in the penalty shoot-out by keeping out Carlos Bacca’s spot-kick, is just a continuation of his club form.
“He was outstanding all season and won all of the player of the year awards, and he has taken that into the World Cup,” he told Press Association Sport.
Unsworth was speaking at the opening of a house for 16 to 23-year-olds who have fallen on hard times, bought and renovated with money raised from the club’s ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ campaign which involved, among other events, the under-23 manager and his players sleeping out on a winter’s night at Goodison Park.
“In big moments he has made big saves and that is the type of character Jordan is,” he added.
“You can’t shy away from anything when you play for England, particularly in a World Cup.
“He has made a name in his short career already as someone who has a great record for saving penalties and I wasn’t surprised to see him make that great save.
“If called upon again in a penalty shoot-out I would fully expect him to make the saves for us to get through.
“I am very proud of him, Everton are proud of him and for me without a shadow of a doubt he is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and in Europe and will only continue to get better.”
England scored four of their five attempts from the spot in the shoot-out to set up a quarter-final meeting with Sweden.
Unsworth, who scored 22 of 26 penalties during his playing career, was impressed with the spot-kicks.
“I would say is is about 30 per cent technique and 70 per cent bottle,” he said.
“When it comes to a penalty shoot-out in a World Cup is is all about the character of the player and the confidence of the player at that time.
“There are some real quality penalties going in at the moment which shows the lads are very confident.
“Did I practice a lot? No I didn’t. Your technique is usually sound as a penalty taker, it is all about your temperament for me.
“When you are a young player you haven’t the fear of missing or losing shoot-outs so I think that is a good omen.”