Jordan Pickford says loan at Preston North End was best of his career as he now plays in the World Cup for England

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England no.1 Jordan Pickford has hailed his loan spell at Preston North End as the best of his career.
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Pickford joined PNE on loan from Sunderland but was recalled by former Lilywhite Sam Allardyce who was in charge of the Black Cats at the time. The Sunderland born stopper went quickly into the starting line up at the Stadium of Light and has never looked back, going on to make a £30m switch to Everton and asserting himself as the first choice goalkeeper for his country.

Now 28, Pickford has looked back on his many loan spells that ranged from non-league football and all the way through the EFL until he reached the Premier League.

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Jordan Pickford playing for EnglandJordan Pickford playing for England
Jordan Pickford playing for England

Speaking to the EFL, Pickford said: “For me, it was the best thing I could ever do, going out on loan at a young age and develop.“You learn about yourself so much as a person and you’ve got to get stuck in early doors as a player. To have that mentality at such a young age, you learn early.

“The EFL is a great environment for a young player because it helps you massively. All those clubs were great loan spells to get me to where I am today and that’s definitely helped me in my career. Those clubs were amazing for me.“Going to Preston was the final bridge I needed to cross in the Championship.“That was my best loan move as a 21-year-old, going and playing and keeping loads of clean sheets. That got me ready for the Premier League.

“One of my best spells was when I was at Preston. I kept a record number of clean sheets for Preston. I was on a seven clean sheet spell. Alan Kelly, my goalkeeping coach at Preston, is now my goalkeeping coach at Everton.

"The Preston one was the move where I knew I was ready. I was playing really good football and I had a really good time there.”

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Pickford had loans with Darlington and Alfreton Town in non-league, and then Burton Albion in League Two, Carlisle United and Bradford City in League One and then joined PNE in the Championship as he earned his stripes.

He's now a 'keeper who has played in a World Cup semi final, a Euros final and he started England's 6-2 win over Iran in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup on Monday.

Only three players in Gareth Southgate's 26-man World Cup squad have not played in the EFL, showing the value in the English footballing pyramid.

Pickford attributes his success in part to his journey through the leagues and gave thanks to the sides that took a chance on him as he was trying to forge his career.

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He said: “The support I received along the way was amazing. The support from the fans at every loan club I went to, I interacted well with the fans and my performances, by giving 100% on a matchday and trying my best for them, I think they bought into that and they were very supportive of me.

“I want to say thanks to my former clubs for giving me the opportunity to develop as an up-and-coming goalkeeper and make my dream come true of playing for England and in the Premier League. I appreciate the time they took.”