Jordan Pickford was nothing short of heroic during the Euro 2020 final.
Pickford’s masterclass vs Italy
With the England shot-stopper having already sewn up the Golden Glove before the Italy clash, it was only natural that he extended his purple patch into a game where football almost came home.
Pickford made a number of fantastic saves as England and Italy drew 1-1 after extra time, including a criminally underrated stop from Marco Verratti mere seconds before Leonardo Bonucci’s equaliser.
However, it was the ensuing penalty shootout in which Pickford excelled himself, producing the goods just as he did during the wins over Colombia and Switzerland in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
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Pickford saves two penalties
While, yes, England went on to lose courtesy of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka’s misses, it wasn’t down to a lack of input from Pickford who made two inspirational saves.
Pickford almost set the wheels in motion for an England victory by denying Andrea Belotti and gave the Three Lions a last-gasp chance to save themselves by dramatically thwarting Jorginho.
It really was inspirational stuff from a goalkeeper who always seems to produce the goods for England and it seems as though he was channelling the process of the iconic Colombia win.
Bottle trick succeeds vs Colombia
That’s because Pickford and England used the same trick that proved so deadly at the 2018 World Cup by way of using a bottle that housed key penalty information about the opposition.
Pickford revealed that the bottle, which was seen scrawled with names and advice, worked a treat in Russia with only Radamel Falcao directing his spot-kick anywhere other than where he’d expected.
As such, there’s good reason to think that the bottle played a vital role in Pickford denying Carlos Bacca and ultimately setting up Eric Dier to end England’s shootout hoodoo at the World Cup.
Bottle trick reappears vs Italy
And according to the Daily Mail, Pickford repeated this trick by way of having notes about Italian penalty takers attached to his water bottle with photographers snapping the cheeky tactic.
It seems as though the system has been given an upgrade, too, because marker-pen scrawling appeared to have been replaced by professional graphics duct-taped around the bottle.
One image even showed that the research was so thorough that players who didn’t end up taking penalties like Rafael Toloi and Gianluigi Donnaruma still had their information taped on.
Meanwhile, another snap allows you to narrowly see instructions such as ‘dive left’ that suggests there was a set plan for each penalty taker ahead of time.
And bearing in mind that Pickford managed to thwart both Belotti and Jorginho, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the bottle tactic worked even more effectively than it did three years ago.
On this occasion, however, it wasn’t enough to send England to glory and perhaps the research of his opposite number, Donnarumma, was just as effective in securing the trophy for Italy.
Either way, though, you certainly can’t fault Pickford for giving absolutely everything for his country when it mattered most.