Football

Eric Dier: Who is Sporting Lisbon's English sensation?

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Eric Dier has made the grade at Sporting. (©GettyImages)
Eric Dier has made the grade at Sporting. (©GettyImages).

Think Sporting Lisbon youngster attracting interest from some of the Premier League's biggest clubs and you'd automatically think William Carvalho.

But there's another young talent catching the eye in Lisbon, so are we going to see an influx of of Portuguese starlets making the move to the Premier League this summer?

Well perhaps not, because Sporting's Eric Dier is English. That's right, a talented young Englishman learning his trade in Europe. Almost unheard of, right?

Standing at 6foot 2inches tall, Dier has the physique of a typical centre-back but his Portuguese upbringing has installed a cultured style of play.

In fact, he's so comfortable on the ball he's even been used in a holding midfield role on several occasions since his Sporting debut in 2012.

That mix has seen a number of top clubs cast an eye over him, with Arsenal, Tottenham and Stoke all linked with the 20-year-old this week.

So why is this young English talent plying his trade in the Primeira Liga you ask?

Well, it all started when a 10-year-old Dier moved from his home in Cheltenham to Portugal in 2004 after his mother had been given a job during the 2004 European Championships.

Fast-forward six years and his footballing ability had long been recognised by Sporting, and Dier would stay in Portugal despite his family making the move back to England.

Speaking in 2010, Dier made it clear just how much he enjoyed life in Lisbon, he told BBC Sport: "I love the training, the Portuguese people, the Portuguese culture. Everything about this place I like.

"I've never seen the need to move from Sporting to anywhere in England or any other country because Sporting has a great history of bringing players up to play in the first team and go on to play in great clubs in Europe."

I guess when you're growing up at the club that gave us Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo there's no reason to want to move.

But, in January 2011 Dier did return to England, albeit on a temporary basis.

Shortly after turning 17, he signed a loan deal with Everton that would see him spend the second half of the 2010/2011 season training with the Merseyside club's accademy.

Later that year he'd earn his first England call-up, his inclusion in an under-18's squad fulfilling an ambition of Dier's, who had previously said: "I think it is the dream of any kid to play for England and play for your country.

"I'd love to go and play in the youth set-up of England."

International recognition didn't stop there, and Dier has continued to work his way through the various age groups, most recently appearing for the Under 21 side in the famous Toulon tournament.

But it's not just youth football where Dier is impressing nowadays, having made his senior debut for Sporting in November 2012.

On just his second start for the club he was on the scoresheet, and he's gone on to amass 27 Primeira Liga appearances in the last two seasons, and with Sporting securing a place in next season's Champions League group stage, Dier could soon be testing himself against Europe's elite.

So while the Premier League and the FA are trying to increase the number of young English players given an opportunity at the top level in England, it's in fact Portugal, and the famous Sporting Lisbon academy, that could provide Roy Hodgson's next young Lion.


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