Jordan Pickford

Where Does Jordan Pickford Rank Among England’s Best Goalkeepers?

As the 2023/24 Premier League season draws to a close, thoughts for many fans turn to the upcoming European Championship in Germany. The Three Lions are the favourites with many betting sites, just ahead of France, with the hosts Germany, Spain and Portugal not too far behind.

A lot of patriotic money – England fans betting with hearts more than their heads – partly explains that, but there is no denying that Gareth Southgate has some excellent players at his disposal. Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, John Stones, Declan Rice and Kyle Walker are all world class, or verging on that description. But England have so much strength in depth in the forward areas, including the likes of Cole Palmer, Jack Grealish, Jarrod Bowen, Anthony Gordon, Ollie Watkins and James Maddison, several of whom may not make even an expanded squad.

What concerns many England fans, however, is the defence… and the goalkeeper. A back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw may please some, but many believe it would prove suspect against the best teams in Europe and very much feel the same way about goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Questioning the Everton man may seem harsh though when we look at his stats and form for England. Pickford is the focus of this article as we assess how he compares to the greatest goalkeepers England have ever had.

Jordan Pickford’s England Record

Jordan Pickford playing for England
Jordan Pickford playing for England (Belish /

Southgate is a loyal manager and tends to stick by an adage he learnt from one of his old bosses, the late Terry Venables. England’s boss at Euro ‘96, Venables argued that it should be as hard to get out of the England team as it was to get in it. Belief that class is permanent, even if form is temporary, was a big part of that, whilst it is also key to creating a club mentality and togetherness at England level.

It gives a player confidence and belief if they know they will not be dropped as soon as they make an error and nowhere is this more important than between the posts. Moreover, the defensive unit works best when they know each other well, and trying to build a true back five can be a large part of that. Because of all that we can be pretty certain that, barring injury, Pickford will head to the Euros as England’s number one.

At the time of writing, the Everton man boasts 60 caps and has been a mainstay of the Southgate era. At 30 years old, he is now pretty much in the peak years for a keeper, but he has represented England since 2009, playing at every level from under 16s upwards. He won the Toulon Tournament with the U21 team in 2016 and this remains his only team honour. The Sunderland native has been the Three Lions’ custodian at three major tournaments already having made his full, senior debut in 2017 after being called up by the current England manager.

He played for his country 14 times the following year and has been England’s first-choice goalie ever since. The 60 caps Pickford boasts have by and large come in competitive games, with Southgate sometimes using friendlies and lesser games to look at alternatives and give some experience to other keepers. Only eight of Pickford’s caps have been in friendly contests, with 14 in the Nations League and the others coming in World Cup and Euros qualifiers and finals.

Pickford has conceded just 45 goals in the 60 matches he has played and has kept 28 clean sheets. That equates to giving away 0.75 goals per game and keeping out the opposition almost half the time. He has never been booked or sent off for England and has made just one mistake leading to a goal, that coming in the March 2024 friendly against Belgium, his 60th and most recent appearance for the Three Lions.

How Does Pickford Compare to England’s Greats?

Shilton, goalkeeper
Peter Shilton, goalkeeper (

Now we know the simple facts about Pickford’s England career, plus a little about his performances more generally and the manager’s faith in him, let us consider England’s best-ever shot-stoppers.

Peter Shilton

The nation’s most-capped player is Peter Shilton, who played 125 times for England. The former Nottingham Forest legend also has the most clean sheets for the Three Lions, with 66. There are always issues when comparing players from different eras and rarely do stats tell us the full story. The most notable thing about Shilton’s record is that he played 72 friendly internationals, and we should also note that back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, some of the weaker international teams were genuinely very poor.

Gordon Banks

The other obvious goalkeeper to consider is the only one who has ever won a major trophy with England: Gordon Banks. The World Cup winner played for his country 73 times and kept 35 clean sheets.

Joe Hart & David Seaman

The only two other stoppers above Pickford in terms of clean sheets are Joe Hart (second on the all-time list with 43 from 75 games) and David Seaman (40 from 75). Few football fans or pundits would suggest that Pickford was better than Banks or Shilton who were each probably the best goalkeeper in the world at some stage during their careers. Seaman perhaps came close to being truly world class, whilst Joe Hart was probably nearer to the level of Pickford but never fulfilled his potential after being mishandled by Pep Guardiola.

Ultimately we would say that right now Pickford is behind Banks and Shilton but up there with the rest, though perhaps just below Seaman. However, should he help England to glory at the Euros that order could easily change, whilst increased maturity and concentration could also see him move closer to England’s best-ever stoppers.

Why Does Pickford Get So Much Hate?

Pickford is loved by many Evertonians and disliked by many neutrals, whilst his ability is also called into doubt by a number of pundits and supporters. Part of this is down to his personality and mannerisms on the pitch, which can be – shall we say – overenthusiastic at times. Part is also down to the mistakes he has made, though by and large these have disappeared from his game in recent seasons (in the PL he has made just two in the last three seasons, compared to, for example, Alisson, who has made three in that time).

The Everton keeper may also be unlucky to play in an era when two truly world-class keepers play in the Premier League (Ederson and Alisson). He is certainly impacted by the social media age in which we live, where hate flows freely and every mistake is replayed, amplified and exaggerated.

Ultimately, we believe that the former Sunderland player is a very good goalkeeper who makes a lot of very big saves for both club and country. He has improved markedly over the past three or four years and his record for England is superb, though still falls short of England’s two best.