For nearly ten years, we have all been attempting, to varying extents, to determine Eric Dier’s level of skill. Since his first appearance for Tottenham in August 2014, under the guidance of numerous top-tier coaches for both club and country, he has scored a crucial penalty in 2018, thrown himself into tackles, defended his brother by leaping into the stands, expressed his opinions against Brexit on Twitter, and now, surprisingly, secured a transfer to Bayern Munich. However, a lingering uncertainty remains.
I’m not sure there’s a footballer I’ve willed to succeed more, willed more to prove the doubters wrong. As someone who is also often accused of stealing a living, perhaps it’s just natural empathy, my footballing embodiment. But there he is, my favourite Eric since Bananaman.
In the world of social media, he is either extremely bad or exceptionally talented. In the actual world of professional football, where most players are highly skilled, he likely falls just slightly below the top tier. Despite this, managers such as Pochettino, Hodgson, Southgate, Mourinho, Conte, and now Tuchel have all expressed interest in him.
Ange Postecoglou appeared irritated when asked if Tottenham could handle selling Dier during this transfer window, given their injury issues. After a brief pause, he answered with a simple “Yes.” This direct response is typical of Postecoglou. Dier likely appreciates the straightforwardness. It’s clear that it’s time for him to move on, especially when Emerson Royal is chosen over him as a center-back. While Dier was part of the high defensive line against Chelsea this season, it’s not his natural style of play.
Over the course of ten years, the career of a Tottenham Hotspur player typically brings to mind near misses – competing for titles, reaching the Champions League final in Madrid, and the occasional display of annoyance after letting in a goal that may not have been their fault but could have been prevented (think Hugo Lloris or Jan Vertonghen, among others). However, Eric Dier’s career is defined by individual moments.
It could be seen as viewing football from a perspective of a mid-life crisis, but it’s almost unimaginable that his first appearance on the first day of the 2014-15 season was over nine years ago. He was part of a four-man defense with Kyle Naughton, Younes Kaboul, and Danny Rose at Upton Park. In the final moments of the game, with a score of 0-0 and both teams reduced to 10 players, the 83rd-minute substitute Harry Kane, who had come on for the ineffective Emmanuel Adebayor, passes the ball to the young and inexperienced Dier.
Guy Demel passes him onside, he moves past Adrián with one touch and scores. He celebrates with Kane and Townsend joins in by jumping on his back. Lewis Holtby also comes over to congratulate him. Since then, I have spent at least some small part of most weeks thinking about Eric Dier.
Moments. He scored England’s first winning penalty in a men’s World Cup shootout. Perhaps it is indicative of how Dier is viewed that you could feel a collective nationwide “really?” as he stepped up to take the decisive spot-kick. Never universally loved in an England shirt, but never the butt of the joke, never the Phil Jones, never the Harry Maguire.
The BBC’s World Cup compilations are worth the cost of a license on their own. The one created before the 2018 semi-final with Croatia combined years of penalty heartbreak with the last-16 shootout against Colombia. As usual, Dier plays a supporting role while Jordan Pickford shines as the main character. Nonetheless, it was an incredible moment. Although his strike was not the cleanest, he joins in on the celebration as a history-making player.
Perhaps his cleanest strike in an England shirt is that tackle on Sergio Ramos in the 3-2 win in Spain. Ten minutes into the game, he sprints 20 yards to storm through Ramos in the Spanish penalty area. “I want Eric Dier’s tackle on Sergio Ramos played at my funeral,” tweeted David Squires. If Postecoglou had seen such a high press perhaps things would be different.
Did any player receive widespread support after confronting a fan in the crowd? Following a loss to Norwich in the FA Cup, Dier jumped over seats in his boots to defend his brother. While commendable, it may not have been the wisest decision.
He is not the typical football player, but rather a sophisticated individual who happens to play football. In 2019, he expressed his support for a #peoplesvote through a tweet. He stands by his decision and does not regret it, as he strongly believes that Brexit is detrimental to the country and current events are proving it to be true.
According to Dier, our stereotypical perception of the dressing room is limited and discussions often extend beyond topics like Dubai, cars, and tattoos. A friend of both of us shared a podcast where Dier was a guest and discussed the garden he cultivated during lockdown. It was refreshing to hear him talk like an ordinary person, despite having a walled garden and an orchard, as he shared tips on planting trees and proper posture for weeding. His demeanor was intriguing, engaged, and modest.
Soccer can be unforgiving and does not prioritize a person’s character, but it is still significant. Hearing Dele Alli discuss the value of his friendship with Dier and the support he has provided during the Everton player’s publicly known challenges gives insight into his good nature.
Perhaps morality leads to achievement. To shake things up for Brendan Rodgers, Dier displays admirable character. The term “consummate” is often used, but it truly applies to Dier. The recent months at Tottenham must have been incredibly challenging. While his transfer to the Allianz may come as a surprise, there isn’t a single Spurs supporter who doesn’t hope for his success. It would be a true testament to his character if he were to have another significant moment, this time involving winning a trophy.