Eric Dier’s Rising Star at Sporting Lisbon
It’s common knowledge that few English players ply their trade abroad, let alone English youth players. While there might not be heaps of English talent actively being recruited to academies abroad, the good news is one starlet is doing his best to offset those percentages by capturing all the headlines from those that do choose to leave good ol’ Blighty. That individual is 18 year old Eric Dier of Sporting Lisbon. Those overly familiar with genealogy might even be able to pick out the name Ted Croker from football’s history books and dot a line back to the Dier family tree. Ted Croker was, after all, the Chief Executive of The FA from 1973-1989 and also can lay claim to being the grandfather of Eric Dier. He sadly passed weeks before Eric Dier was born, at 68.
Eric Dier first grabbed the attention of people ‘back home’ after appearing as “that guy” in an Umbro advertisement before ever being capped by his country. It led to an almighty rush by The FA to get in contact with a player who had not even been scouted by his country, and was being readily tapped up by Portugal.
Eric Dier started his career in Portugal off at Sporting Lisbon in 2011. He’s one of six children, all of whom were shepherded over to Portugal during Euro 2004 to lay down roots due to his parent’s work commitments. His footballing tutelage began then and there. Eric Dier is, however, not foreign to English football, after spending the most part of the 2011/12 season on loan at Everton captaining their U18 side.
Dominant in the air, progressive moving forward, and strong in the tackle, Dier joked to journalists that he’s “not like a traditional English centre back, the kind who kicks people”. Dier plays centre back for Sporting, but also can also shift into a holding role in front of the back four. He has also played seven times for the England U19s and once for the England U18s.
For a player who was making waves for Sporting Lisbon‘s B Team (Reserves), a late call-up to the first team squad led to him making his debut on 11 November. Furthermore, it only took him four minutes to make an impact, providing the assist for the only goal of the game.
“I think the game went well for me and I’m very happy – I couldn’t ask for more. My team-mates helped me a lot. They received me very well and I take this opportunity to thank them publicly. I had never played in front of so many Sporting fans and I confess it felt good. Personally, when I walk onto the pitch I focus solely on the game and I don’t feel the pressure.
“I had trained with the first team before and it was very good to see my name in the squad list, and on Sunday I realised a dream. Since I’ve been at Sporting, going back to the days of Pina Manique, making it to the first team has always been my dream. When I was at Alcochete Academy, and I saw the seniors training on the pitch next to me, the only thing I could think of was that one day I want to be there.”
Those who think Dier would be “better off” at a “top club” in England should perhaps take a seat. His public loyalty to the Portuguese club speaks volumes.
“…at the [Sporting] Academy I found a second family. Everybody has left a big impression on me. It was at the Academy that I grew as a man and as a player. Truth be told, a lot of the person I am today I owe to all the employees of the Academy. I’m very grateful.”
Smart in interviews, confident in two tongues, and one with international experience under his belt? England should be so lucky to lay claim to such a player.
“I’m bilingual and even if I come back to England one day, I’d like to teach my kids Portuguese.”
Perhaps it is quite fitting that Leões translates into ‘Lions’, as a career with three of them on the shirt beckons.