Dier identifies role models, ready for possible Portugal clash

Date published: Wednesday 22nd June 2016 10:50

Eric Dier: One of England's most impressive performers

Eric Dier: One of England's most impressive performers

Eric Dier would relish a clash between England and adopted homeland Portugal in the Euro 2016 last 16.

Roy Hodgson’s inability to eke out a winner against Slovakia saw them slip to second in Group B, setting up clash against the runners-up of Group F in Nice next Monday.

England players and staff will no doubt be watching the culmination of that group with interest on Wednesday, with all four spots yet to be decided as Iceland face Austria and Hungary play Portugal.

The latter would be the worst-case scenario for the Three Lions but a special match for Dier, having spent his adolescent years in the country after his mother got a job working at Euro 2004.

The Tottenham defensive midfielder watched a number of games as England made their way to the quarter-finals only to bow out to the hosts on penalties – the same fate Portugal condemned them to at the World Cup two years later.

Those exits add to what would be a fascinating last 16 encounter that would be special for the Sporting Lisbon academy graduate.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Dier said. “To be honest, I wasn’t even aware (we could play them), really.

“It could be Portugal, I am sure it could be someone else as well. We’ll just wait and see. Obviously that game has a lot of history I think in the Euros with England, so it’ll be interesting.

“I grew up with quite a few of them that are playing for them now.

Eric Dier Sporting Lisbon

“I grew up with William Carvalho, Joao Mario, Rui Patricio the goalkeeper, who I played with him for Sporting, and Adrien Silva.

“Andre Gomes I played against for all the youth teams, so I know quite a few of them.”

Dier naturally has a strong affinity to the country and his girlfriend is Portuguese, but making England enjoy a successful summer is his only focus right now.

The defensive midfielder has arguably been the Three Lions’ most important player at Euro 2016 and is enjoying the role adopted at the start of the campaign.

“I think I’ve proved that I enjoy playing there the whole season for Tottenham and I am obviously playing here now for England,” Dier said.

“I am delighted with it and I will try my best in every game to keep my position and keep helping the team. I’ll try my best and I hope to try and cement my place in the team.

“There were always players I liked from when I was young in that position. I played it a bit when I was younger, there was always players that I liked.

“There are now players I look at and I think they are good people for me to learn from and hopefully I can.

“I don’t want to tell you names because you’ll start doing comparisons,” he added with a laugh.

“When I was growing up, Roy Keane was a player that I really loved when I was a kid. Rafael Marquez, who used to play for Barcelona, I liked him too.

“They’re players when I was growing up I enjoyed watching.”

While Dier has been key in midfield, his adaptability and Hodgson’s decision to bring only three out-and-out centre-backs may see him slot into the backline at some point this tournament.

It would certainly weaken the midfield if he was required to drop back, but the Spurs man is open to it if needs be.

“I have said how I am enjoying a lot playing in this position, it’s where I see myself at the moment,” he said of his defensive midfield role.

“It has gone so well, so many positives. It’s given me my England debut in my first full season at Tottenham.

“Obviously I enjoy playing there but I really am happy to play wherever the manager wants me to so it’s not something I think about.”

Related Articles

Your Say