There is a saying in football: “22 men kick around a ball for 90 minutes, and in the end the Germans win.” Not Saturday night however. England vs Germany has produced some magical moments in the past – from the 1966 World Cup Final, to the Germans being “hushed” in Munich in 2001 as they were defeated 5-1.
Why not add England’s comeback in Berlin on Saturday nigh? Eric Dier’s late goal went down in the history book as the Three Lions defeated Germany for only the second time since that famous night in September 2001. While Michael Owen and Emile Heskey were the heroes on that night, Shoot takes a look at the hero this time round – Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dier.
Where did it all start for Dier?
Dier was born in the Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham into a football family, with his grandfather being the Secretary of the Football Association Ted Croker – a man who introduced the Charity Shield (Now the FA Community Shield) into its current format, as well as also dealing with large scale football disaster articles such as Hillsborough and Heysel. Despite Croker passing on before the birth of his grandchild, Dier obviously retained the genes of his grandad when it came to football.
Despite being born in the United Kingdom, aged 10, Dier made the move to Portugal where his mother, Louise, had been offered a hospitality job for the 2004 European Championships. After spending time in Algarve, Dier’s family migrated permanently to Lisbon a year later at which point he was scouted by Sporting’s academy – the same academy greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo had graduated from.
What happened next?
By the age of 16, Dier was being called one of England’s next biggest talents with him already having the physical nuances necessary for professional football (he already stood at 6ft 2in.) He eventually signed professional terms for Sporting in April 2010, despite interest from back home where clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal and, ironically, Tottenham all pursued the youngster’s signature.
His progress was steady, but there was still no breakthrough to the Primeira Liga side’s first team, and Dier took a risk in January 2011 when he agreed to make the trip back to the United Kingdom, signing on a youth loan with Everton. Making 10 appearances for the Toffees’ under-18 side, as well as also coming off the bench for Alan Stubbs’ reserve side in a fixture against Newcastle.
With a new manager at the helm at Sporting in the shape of former Porto striker Domingos, Dier made the step into the first team, however it was Domingos’ successor who gave the holding midfielder his debut, when Ricardo Sa Pinto played him in a fixture against Braga in November 2012.
As Dier steadily progressed and became a regular within the first team set-up, an opportunity arose which he could simply not turn down when Tottenham Hotspur came calling in August 2014.
How has he progressed at White Hart Lane?
It was the August 2, 2014 that Dier put pen-to-paper for Tottenham Hotspur. He became an instant hit in North London under Mauricio Pochettino, partly because he scored the decisive goal in his competitive debut for the Spurs, against London rivals West Ham at the Boleyn Ground on a blisteringly hot opening Premier League day. That would be his first of two Premier League goals in his opening season in the toughest division in the world. However, he would play a key part in Spurs’ fifth-placed finish, as well as also starting the League Cup final in which Pochettino’s men were defeated by Chelsea, who would eventually gain a double that season.
This season his impact has been even more important with him playing a key part in Spurs’ race to the Premier League title – triumph for the White Hart Lane faithful would see them lift their first top division title since the side of 1961 did so.
How has he performed in a Three Lions’ shirt?
As a result of Dier’s allegiances with not just England, but also with Portugal – a place where he spent most of his childhood – he had a dilemma in his late teens with both the Portugal Football Federation and the FA wanting Dier to represent their respective countries.
Whilst on a youth loan on Merseyside, the discussion intensified and prompted the response from the FA that he would be called up within the next few months. So he did, when then Under-18s manager Noel Blake selected the youngster. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw in Slovakia alongside Manchester United defender Tyler Blackett and Norwich City star winger Nathan Redmond – then at Birmingham City.
Gradually he progressed through the England set-up and by August 2013 was among the 21-man squad that Peter Taylor had chosen to feature in that years FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Here he played the full 90 minutes as England were embarrassingly knocked out – finishing bottom of their group without a victory – ironically in a side which included the current Premier League’s top goalscorer and fellow team-mate, Harry Kane.
His next step up was the under-21 squad for whom he made his debut in August 2013 following the humiliation of that summer’s Under-21 European Championships.
Eventually, he became a regular with the Under-21s, until November 2015 that is, when he was ready to make the step-up to the senior squad. November 13, 2015 will be a dark day which will go down as the day that Paris was attacked by Terrorists. For Dier, it was the day that he made his England debut, replacing Adam Lallana in a 2-0 defeat over 2010 World Champions Spain.
Did his goal against the World Cup winners come as a surprise?
Maybe. Notwithstanding his first two Premier League games for Spurs in which he scored two goals, Dier has never been known as a midfielder who possesses the attacking threat, and has since only scored three league goals for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. However, with the exception of his goal against Colchester in the FA Cup back in January where he rifled off a wonderful shot from 35 yards (worth a watch on YouTube), his goals have been very similar to the one he scored in the dying seconds in Berlin on Saturday. Dier will always be a threat from corners, where most of his goals come from, and that was evident when he powerfully headed the ball past Manuel Neuer from six yards following a perfect delivery.
Super Stat: Dier has not scored a goal away from home for Tottenham since the opening day of the 2014/15 season.