Pickford eager for Czech shut-out to honour Banks’ life
World Cup-winning goalkeeper will be remembered at Wembley.
England’s Jordan Pickford wants to keep a clean sheet in Friday’s clash with the Czech Republic in dedication to Three Lions “legend” Gordon Banks.
Wembley will pay tribute to Banks on Friday as a sell-out crowd will remember the 1966 World Cup winner before Gareth Southgate’s side kick off their Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
There will be a period of appreciation in England’s first match since Banks died aged 81 on February 12, with players to wear black armbands and a banner to be displayed featuring his yellow World Cup shirt and the number one.
Members of his family will be in the Royal Box and representatives from his former club Stoke have also been invited.
Southgate has confirmed Pickford will start the match despite recent criticism of his performances for Everton.
Now the 25-year-old is keen to enjoy an impressive evening between the posts as a tribute to Banks.
Asked how moving it will be to have Banks’ family in attendance, Pickford replied: “It’ll be great. A minute of applause for him as well.
“What a legend of a goalkeeper he was, so with his family being there, hopefully it’ll be a special night and (I can) keep a clean sheet for him.
“I never met him but I remember in the World Cup we got a message off every former player, from the World Cup just gone.
“He sent me a message, I think he sent all the keepers a message. I think every player got that message off a different former player. So I think I will be keeping that for a very long time.
“It was a written message, and a signature as well, it was nice. It was a nice touch before the World Cup, and my dad brought it up the other day and mentioned that.”
Pickford will also want to shine for other reasons after questions over his display in a recent defeat to Newcastle.
“I think… apart from the Newcastle game, I think up until then I was doing well and I think I bounced back from that Newcastle game with a solid performance against Chelsea,” he said.
“I don’t really look into my form too much. I know whether I’ve played a good game or a bad game. So, I always take it game by game and how can I improve from that game to get better for the next game.”
Former Sunderland stopper Pickford revealed he also spoke one-on-one to Southgate about the 3-2 loss at Newcastle.
“We just had a little chat about it really and they just asked us what did you think about the game.
“Gareth being up at Middlesbrough for so many years, he knows what the passion for football in the north east is like. The abuse he gets, he kind of realised where I was.”
Most of the criticism aimed at Pickford of late has come via social media – but he insists it is water off a duck’s back and does not take anything to heart.
“It’s just social media really at the end of the day,” he added.
“You see it all on Twitter and stuff, and if you don’t laugh you cry, don’t you? But it’s about me becoming better as a goalkeeper, so it’s not about the criticism I’m getting, it’s about how I can go to training and what I can do in training to become better for game day.”