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Eric Dier

Squad number --
Position Defender
Joined on 20 January 2011
Joined from Sporting Lisbon
Transfer fee On Loan
Full debut Did not happen
Loan duration 6 +12 months
Loan expired June 2012
Left on 19 June 2012
Left for Sporting Lisbon
Transfer fee Loan ended
Born Cheltenham
Date of birth 15 January 1994
Height 6' 2"
Nickname(s) Big Eric

Tall and Skilful
Great ball control
Too Young

Soccerbase Datafile
Wikipedia Entry

Sporting Lisbon defender Eric Dier joined Everton on loan in January 2011.   Everton initially signed the17-year-old English-born defender on loan from Sporting Lisbon for the remaining half of the 2010-11 season. 

He was the first Englishman to play for Sporting Lisbon.  Under the mentorship of the iconic Paulo Cardoso (the man who scouted Ronaldo and Nani for Sporting), Dier had been expected to break through into the Sporting first team setup the next season.

Dier was eligible to play for both England and Portugal.   The 6ft-2in centre-back was born in Cheltenham but moved to Portugal aged seven when his mother got a job working at Euro 2004; he was contracted to Sporting until 2013. Although his family have since returned to Britain, he stayed out in Lisbon.

Despite being just 16, he played for Sporting’s Under 19s; he has been captain of every junior Sporting side — bar the Under 19s — since he was 11 and when he signed a professional contract in April 2010. Sporting had to fight off interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

The player, who would be eligible for joint English-Portuguese nationality when he turned 18, is the grandson of former Football Association secretary Ted Croker, and great uncle Peter both played professionally for Charlton Athletic whilst his dad was a pro tennis player.

Before he joined Everton on loan, the Daily Mail reported no-one from the FA had been in touch with Dier about playing for England. It seemed the FA, as with the then Mainz winger Lewis Holtby, were unaware of Dier’s existence.

“I think of myself as a little bit Portuguese but I still consider myself English,” said Dier at Sporting’s academy in Alcochete, on the outskirts of Lisbon. “My dream is to play for England but no-one has ever been in touch about representing them. I don’t know if they know about me and maybe it’s got something to do with me being abroad. I guess it’s hard to come out and watch my games.”

 Standing at 6ft-2in tall, he has the makeup to be a commanding centre-half and his coaching at Lisbon`s academy was such that the ball-playing aspect of his play had been greatly nurtured. Dier was a cultured young centre-back whose style has been cultivated by the marriage of contrasting football cultures.

His exploits had been recognised by the Portuguese national team, who attempted to select him for an U17 international. For Dier, though, there is only one international ambition, to attract the attention of the England FA and represent the country of his birth. His development was noticed by Umbro who pressed for Dier to front their England merchandising launch.

After his loan move to Goodison Park, Eric had been working with the Academy Under-18 side but, given his exposure in Portugal, he was expected to move up through the ranks rapidly and it was thought he could be in the first-team squad as early as the next season. Asked about whether he was a typical English centre-half, Dier said:

"I can do that as well but I can pass it and I`m very comfortable on the ball. In Portugal, it`s all very technical and that`s what they emphasise most. People tell me that I am a leader and very competitive. I`m not the quickest but I`ve been working on that — I have seen a speed specialist, Margot Wells, for the last two summers — but I think I read the game well, which compensates a bit. I don`t really like to compare myself to anyone but I like watching Nemanja Vidic, Ricardo Carvalho and Gerard Pique."

Dier helped Everton Under-18s to win their group in the FA Premier Youth League, and they went on to win the 2011 national Playoff Final with him against Fulham.

Already tipped as a future Premier League performer and England regular, Sporting sanctioned Dier’s loan move to Finch Farm so he could “grow in a more competitive demanding and environment”. He was ineligible for David Moyes’s first team, however, and Sporting would want a multi-million pound fee for any permanent transfer. 

Another obstacle could be third-party ownership, with Sporting having sold 50% economic rights of the player to a third-party owner, "Quality Football Ireland Limited".

Eric Dier returned to Sporting Lisbon after his initial half-season loan expired, but was then secured on a full season loan for the 2011-12 season and went on to be a lynchpin for both the Under-18s and Everton Reserves as he notched up 29 more appearances, many of them as captain.

He looked to be an excellent prospect with the potential to make to the first team — if only he would have been allowed to play for the Blues! He had all the attributes a top centre-half could need: he's a tall lad so wins a lot in the air and is a threat from offensive set plays.

He has decent pace but also excellent reading of the game, he's not staggeringly quick yet is hardly outpaced. His technique is top notch and he likes to play the ball about on the floor and is comfortable in possession and starting plays from the back.

He was expected to make an excellent Premier League defender but it would not be with Everton. Sporting would not let him go cheaply, with a price tag of £5 million which was a huge amount for a 17-year-old back in 2012. He was also one of these players with strange registration agencies – much like Carlos Tevez.

Sporting said they saw his time with Everton as more of an experience to play at a tougher level than in Portugal, so they probably expected he would end up moving to the Premier League at some point in his career. It was hoped his time at Everton had put them in a strong position, and news in March 2012 that Sporting Lisbon had bought back that 50% interest from QFIL was expected to smooth the path for a future transfer...

But it was not to be, as David Moyes made it crystal clear he had no chance of breaking through into the first team, and he returned to Portugal after 18 months on loan at Everton Academy, without ever getting near the first-team squad.

A later interview with then Academy Director, Alan Irvine was revealing:

 “I didn’t feel Eric was being stretched. I sat in a meeting with David Moyes [the Everton manager at the time] and told him that being with the Under-18s was no good for Eric and that he needed to train with older players — the first-team squad, the Under-21s.

“He was kind of coasting a little bit. I’m not saying the Under-18s was too easy for him but he was going through the motions and that wasn’t good. I got the impression he didn’t feel he was quite being tested enough.

“Some players are happy just to be the best in their age group but it was clear that Eric needed to be challenged. So David took him to work with those squads and he performed well enough to stay with them during the rest of his time with the club. David wanted to sign him but in the end he went back to Sporting."

The terms of Dier’s loan made it clear that there was never any serious chance of him signing for the Toffees, despite the positive impact he made.

“Some boys will do what the coach asks and not think about it but you always had the feeling with Eric that it was important he understood why you had made a certain suggestion,” Irvine added. “I have no problem with that because I like ‘thinking’ players.

“In order to play at the top level, you need to be intelligent and Eric was a thinker. Because of the Portuguese background, he was a bit different from some of the other kids and he always thought things through. He played at centre-back, right-back and midfield for the younger teams at Everton, though I don’t see him as a right-back. I’d probably lean towards him being a defensive midfielder rather than a centre-back.

“He is a good size, he can head it, he is composed on the ball and he understands what it is to be a centre-back, so he can help them.”

Dier joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2014 on a five-year contract for a fee of £4 million, and played an increasingly influential role in their defence.  In September 2015, he would attract the ire of Evertonians with a dubious scissors tackle on Tim Cleverley in the Premier League game at White Hart Lane that went unpunished but would put Everton's new signing out of the game for the next 3 months.

Dier would go on to be a lynchpin in the Spurs team that made an impressive charge at reigning in the runaway Premier League leaders, Leicester City in 2015.

Everton Academy (on loan)
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2010-11 U-18s & Res  10 (1) & 1 (0) 1 & 0
2011-12 U-18s & Res  15 (1) & 13 (0) 1 & 0
Previous Career
Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2004-Present Sporting Lisbon (Academy)  NA NA

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