As a nation, we were glued to our screens as we witnessed (if we were brave enough!) England winning their first tournament knock-out match in 12 years…

Spare a thought, though, for Jordan Pickford – England’s shoot-out hero… As Sky Sports reveals, “England’s overnight sensation has been years in the making.”

Pickford only made his England debut In November. That’s some trajectory – from debutant to national hero in nine months! The epitome of an “overnight success”… This, however, is the story of resilience and perseverance. The story of how belief, a steely determination and a “never say die” attitude sowed the seeds of international success.

Prior to his Premier League bow in 2016, Pickford had already amassed 116 league appearances in loan spells at six different clubs. Jordan’s debut – for Darlington – came as a 17 year-old, in 2012, against Fleetwood, in front of a crowd of 5,638. At the time, as Sky Sports reports, “players were there on a non-contract basis and not being paid. The club’s very future was at risk.” Midfielder Adam Rundle added that “The fans were fundraising and doing bucket collections just to help the lads get by.”

Pickford failed to win any of his 17 games for Darlington. “He tasted relegation before he tasted three points.”

Just last weekend, following his performance against Belgium in the group stages, Pickford was ridiculed by Belgium’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, and was the subject of much public debate… Some critics were even calling for him to be dropped – not to mention the furore over the fact that Joe Hart wasn’t even included in England’s World Cup squad… Pickford’s promotion to “England’s Number One” has been the subject of much debate here in England.

But Pickford rose above the taunts and criticism to become the hero of England’s first ever World Cup penalty shootout…

Talk about an “overnight success”…

Simon Grayson – once Jordan’s manager at Sunderland – said that “I think he will eventually get to be England’s number one. He deserves it because he is a hard-working lad who wants to improve all the time. If you do that you have got a chance of getting where you want to get to and I am sure he will do.”

Your roots determine your fruits.

As Brendon Burchard would say, “Honour the struggle”. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill.

Keep on keeping on… You never know how close to are to achieving your goals! Where would England be today if Jordan Pickford had quit following relegation with Darlington, without a single league victory under his belt?

Further food for thought – Both Pickford and David Ospina (Colombia’s goalkeeper) got their hands to (what would become) the final penalties… Pickford’s strength and technique prevented Carlos Bacca from scoring the goal, whereas Ospina merely deflected Eric Dier’s penalty into the net… Would Pickford have had the strength to stop Bacca’s shot if he hadn’t resolutely and determinedly worked at his craft – time sacrificed in the gym, and practice, practice and more practice… I’m not saying that Pickford is a better or stronger ‘keeper than Ospina, my point is that it’s the work that you (sometimes privately) put in behind the scenes that contributes to your public success.

Keep on keeping on – your roots determine your fruits.

Success takes effort…