While the likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Pickford and Gareth Southgate are stealing the headlines within the English media, there is one player who has quietly gone about his business to ensure that England booked their place in the semi-final of the World Cup.
Step forward Eric Dier. His journey to the English set-up is different to most, Dier was born in Cheltenham but moved to Portugal at the age of seven after his mother, Louise, was offered the job of running the hospitality programme at Euro 2004.
After progressing through Sporting Lisbon’s academy, following in the footsteps of the likes of Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. He made his first-team debut in a 1-1 draw with Braga in November 2012 and was snapped up by Spurs for a bargain £4million in 2014.
Dier’s impressive form following his move to Spurs earned him his first England cap in a friendly against Spain in November a year later.
Whilst Dier was a regular under Roy Hodgson at Euro 2016, where he scored a stunning free-kick in 1-1 opener against Russia, he has found himself playing second fiddle to Jordan Henderson at the World Cup.
His leadership qualities are there for everyone to see and he was named England captain for the defeat to Belgium, bit his finest moment to date came when he was brought on as a substitute in the 81st minute of the match against Colombia in place of his Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli.
The change was meant to shore up England’s 1-0 lead, only for Yerry Mina to head in an equaliser three minutes into added time.
We all know the story, extra time followed and the drama of a penalty shoot-out had fans fearing of a repeat of the 1990 World Cup, particular when Henderson, who ironically is preferred to Dier fluffed his lines from 12 yards.
Dier showed coolness personified to step up and convert the winning penalty to send his nation into dreamland. There couldn’t have been a better man to win a World Cup penalty shootout.
His performances last season came in for criticism from some sections of the Spurs support, who preferred to see Wanyama and Dembele playing in the holding role. However, a big season awaits the 24-year-old, particular with Dembele expected to depart the club this summer.
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