Published 22 September 2022 7 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Eric Dier: 'I feel like my game is in the best place it has ever been'

Written by:

Frank Smith

Eric Dier discusses his England recall and the impact Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has had on his game

Eric Dier believes his game is in the best place it has ever been and admits missing out on last summer’s home EUROs has provided motivation to reach new levels.

Since 2013, Dier had been a regular under Gareth Southgate at international level, initially for the Under-21s and then the senior team.

Dier has earned 45 caps for England’s senior team, following his debut under Roy Hodgson in 2015, and was a member of the EURO 2016 and World Cup 2018 squads.

He also etched his name into Three Lions’ history when converting the crucial spot-kick as England won a World Cup penalty shootout for the first time in the last 16 game against Colombia in 2018.

But after being an unused substitute or left out of the matchday squad in the three World Cup qualifiers in March 2021, Dier missed out on the provisional and final EURO 2020 squads, with the uncapped pair of Ben Godfrey and Ben White edging ahead of the versatile Dier.

Eric Dier scored the winning penalty against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup
Eric Dier scored the winning penalty against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup

Southgate explained Dier’s form during the 2020-21 season had been the crucial factor but the following campaign saw the former Sporting Lisbon youngster produce some of his best form on a consistent basis.

The arrival of Antonio Conte in November 2021 has seen Dier become an integral part of the Italian’s side, at the heart of a three-man defence, so it came as no surprise when Southgate recalled the 28-year-old for this month’s UEFA Nations League games with Italy and Germany.

When asked if anything has changed around his game to earn the England recall, Dier replied: “Just my performances really. I don’t think anything else matters too much.

“I think my game has obviously developed, I have found a lot more consistency to my game than I have had before, and I feel like it is in the best place it has ever been.”

He continued: “The manager (Conte) has had a huge impact on me in every way: tactically, physically and mentally. Other than Pochettino when I first arrived at Tottenham, I think Conte has had the biggest impact on my footballing career.

“There is so much he has taught me. There is so much tactically, I have learned so much playing within a different system. Tactically I have never prepared so well for every game or prepared so well for each opposition. He is meticulous in his preparation and that is something I have tried to let rub off on me.”

Eric Dier is loving life back in the England camp
Eric Dier is loving life back in the England camp

Dier was speaking at St George’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, having arrived at the National Football Centre the previous night.

With Dier representing England at Under-18, 19, 20 and 21 level, it is a place he knows well and with it being less than 18 months since his last call-up, the surroundings and staff have not changed much since he has been away.

He said: “I’m really happy. It is nice to be back and to be honest, just coming into training this morning and being able to train with the best English players in the country, that is the thing I am enjoying most about being back.

“It felt pretty normal to me because I have been here a lot, I know everyone very well so I wasn’t nervous. I was just excited.” 

At 28, Dier could potentially be entering his prime years as a centre back but with a number of talented youngsters being called up in recent times, which include the likes of Marc GuéhiFikayo Tomori and White, did the Spurs man feel his time with England had come to a close?

“Obviously that is always a worry of yours, after every camp,” Dier replied. “That is always something which is on your mind and you never want to not be a part of it and that fear exists but I was always confident in my ability and the idea that I could get back.”

Like the rest of the country, Dier watched on as his England team-mates made a first European Championship Final last summer.

But unlike most of the country, he was left wondering what might have been after narrowly missing out on the squad and admitted: “It is not too fun is it? It was not fun watching from afar but I think it was good for me. I think it motivated me.

“Obviously I have been to a World Cup semi-final and these boys have been to the EUROs Final and one step further, so there is a hunger and motivation inside all of us to now make that final step.”

Find grassroots football near you