How Euro 2004 Could Have Solved England’s Defensive Problems

Eric Dier completes move back to England (Image from Getty)

The European Championships held in Portugal in 2004 will be remembered as the year that Greece shocked the world by beating the home nation in the final to lift the trophy. The Greek team, led by German manager Otto Rehhagel and influential captain Theodoros Zagorakis demonstrated how teamwork and dedication can overcome raw talent and upset the odds. Angelos Charisteas 57th minute goal was enough to seal the win and cement Greece’s place in football folklore. But Euro 2004 may turn out to be a significant tournament for England too despite Sven-Göran Eriksson’s men crashing out in the round of 16. It was the tournament itself that led to a ten year old boy moving from England to Portugal in a switch that would change his life forever. Sporting Lisbon’s Eric Dier is not that well known to many England fans at present but he soon will be after sealing a £4million move back to England with Tottenham.

Greece shocked the world at Euro 2004  (Image from AFP)
Greece shocked the world at Euro 2004
(Image from AFP)

The 20 year old move to Portugal fourteen years ago when his mother accepted a job in the country during Euro 2004 and it wasn’t long before his footballing abilities started to catch the eye of his International school’s PE teacher, Miguel Silva. Realizing his potential, Silva recommended him to Sporting Lisbon who signed the player to their youth ranks. Over the next ten years, Dier progressed through the Sporting youth system eventually forcing his way into the Sporting Lisbon B team in 2012 and a year later earned his first team debut aged 19. He made a blistering star to that match by setting up the only goal of the game  against SC Braga in November 2012. Fifteen days later he opened his account for Sporting with a fine strike against Moreiense FC in a 2-2 draw and has not looked back since. Since his debut, Dier played 26 times for Sporting and became a permanent fixture on their team sheet.

Dier spent his formative years in Portugal  (Image from Getty)
Dier spent his formative years in Portugal
(Image from Getty)

But a move back to England was always on the cards and with interest from Newcastle and West Ham, Tottenham had to move quickly to secure the youngster in time for the start of the new season. Comfortable anywhere across the back line or as a defensive midfielder, Dier gives Spurs options and is the third signing of the Mauricio Pochettino era following Ben Davies and Michael Vorm’s arrivals at the club from Swansea. The move will allow Dier the chance to prove himself in one of the world’s biggest leagues for the second time, after spending a brief six month loan spell with Everton back in 2011. The switch is good news for England as well as it is likely to speed up Dier’s development and fast track him towards becoming a full international. Despite interest from Portugal, Dier has committed himself to England and has played at all levels except for Hodgson’s full first team. It would be foolish for Hodgson to ignore the player as he is unlikely any of the other options available to the England manager. Having spent his formative years in Portugal, where technique on the ball and winning with possession is focused on rather than traditional defending techniques like closing down and tight marking, Dier is unique as an England centre half and could offer a new dimension to a somewhat stale defence. Mature beyond his years, Dier has future England captain writing all over him but his soft spoken approach will need to adapt if he is to follow the likes of Butcher, Terry and Ferdinand into the role.

Future England Captain? Eric Dier  (Image from FA)
Future England Captain? Eric Dier
(Image from FA)

Before Dier can start to think about that, he will need to earn his spot in Tottenham’s first team against some tough competition in the form of Dawson, Kaboul and Vertonghen. However with Romanian flop Vlad Chiriches soon to depart and rumours swirling about Dawson’s future at the club, Dier will get his chance to impress sooner rather than later. It will be up to him to prove that the hype around this young talented English defender from Portugal is accurate and that he can go on to lead Tottenham and eventually England to glory.

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