Former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland believes Thibaut Courtois was “out of order” to bring up the matter of Jordan Pickford’s height.
Courtois’ comments came after Belgium’s 1-0 win against England in the group stages of the World Cup when Adnan Januzaj scored past Pickford. He said: “The goalkeeper is 10cm smaller than me. I would have caught it. He was too busy throwing his legs in the air.”
Kirkland, who spent time with Pickford at Preston, believes it was unnecessary for Courtois to pass comment.
“I think what people said, especially Courtois, was out of order,” Kirkland told Sky Sports.
“To say that about another goalkeeper, you know we are in the same position. I think he might be hopefully eating his words in a few weeks team if we meet them in the final.”
Against Colombia the England goalkeeper was in inspired form, pulling off one of the saves of the tournament to deny Mateus Uribe before making a crucial stop in the penalty shootout to set up Eric Dier’s winning spot kick.
Kirkland was not surprised to see Pickford silence his critics with a strong performance: “I think you only realise how good it was [the save] when you slow it down.
“When you slow it down and just look at his movement to get that finger tip on the ball it’s incredible. But it doesn’t surprise me as I’ve seen him do it many times at Preston and we’ve seen him do it many times in the Premier League for Sunderland and for Everton.”
Kirkland is not the only one singing Pickford’s praises. Former Darlington boss Craig Liddle believes the goalkeeper was “destined” for the top – even when he was failing to win a game in the National League.
Liddle gave Pickford his senior debut as a 17-year-old as Darlington battled relegation from the National League.
“We gave him the platform and the opportunity but he was always destined to get to where he is now,” said Liddle.
“The thing with all young players is when you have an opportunity you have to take it.
“He took it with both hands and went back to Sunderland, kicked on again and each loan spell tested him that bit more.”