Former Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos has said Jordan Pickford’s relative lack of height does not matter at all as he has proven he is one of the best shot-stoppers in the world.
Pickford was criticised by his opposite number Thibaut Courtois for being too short to stop Adnan Januzaj’s shot when Belgium beat England 1-0 in their final group-stage game, the Three Lions’ only defeat at Russia 2018 so far.
But since then the 6ft Everton goalkeeper has helped England finally win a World Cup penalty shootout against Colombia and produced three world-class saves on his way to a man-of-the-match award against Sweden in the quarter-final.
Campos, who played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, is best remembered for his flamboyant jerseys, ability with the ball at his feet and short stature.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow on the eve of England’s semi-final against Croatia, Campos said: “I knew I wasn’t tall or strong so I had to be smart.
“How many goalies are out of the World Cup? A lot. But (Pickford) is still here. So I don’t care if he’s tall or not.”
Campos, who also frequently played as a striker during his club career, explained he was told he was too short to be a goalkeeper at the start of his career but worked out a way “to just stop the ball” based on agility, bravery, mental strength and speed.
Pickford is much taller than Campos, who is only 5ft 7in, but he is the shortest of England’s three goalkeepers and the smallest of the four starting goalkeepers still in the tournament.
All of that quartet – Courtois, France’s Hugo Lloris, Danijel Subasic of Croatia and Pickford – have a good chance of claiming the Golden Glove award for the tournament’s top goalkeeper. Courtois has made the most saves, Lloris made a vital save against Uruguay in the last round and Subasic has saved four penalties in two shootouts.
Asked who he thinks has been the best so far, Campos said: “Everyone has their own preference but the four who are in the semi-finals are all good and they deserve to be there.
“I can’t pick one of them out. I like them all.”