Eric Dier has scored a free kick to give England a late lead in an European Championship game against Russia in Marseille. Two years later, he converted the decisive penalty in Moscow to win England a shoot-out win against Colombia, ending a generation of penalty pain for England in World Cups. One great moment, another historic one.
So why does it feel as if his England career will always be associated with a bookable offence in the early stages of a Uefa Nations League group game earlier this week?
Dier’s flattening of Sergio Ramos on Monday night earned him a yellow card, but it also earned him a new level of popularity back home. He was seen as being the man who turned the tide, after some early Spanish pressure, by rattling their best player and captain. Soon after that, England were 3-0 up.
English football fans prefer tackles to goals, and when Dier was asked about the tackle late on Monday night, it felt like the start of a lifetime of questions for him. At first, he was coy. He insisted he did not mean to put down a marker, that he did not even remember what Ramos said to him afterwards. “I just think the ball was there to be won and I think I won it,” said Dier. “I don’t think it was a foul or a yellow card really.”
But then Dier warmed up and made clear that as much as he respected the great Ramos, he had to be aggressive and was pleased that he had been.
“I think it’s really important that we respect our opponents, and Ramos is one of the best of all time, really,” Dier said. “It’s important to respect them. But at the same time, once we start the game, it’s every man for himself. We have to put our foot down, put a marker down and be aggressive. Still with respect, but we have to be aggressive, be on the front foot and show that nothing is going to intimidate us. That’s just as important as playing good football and all the other aspects.”
That combination of quality and aggression is what makes Ramos so good after all. “I think Ramos is a great example of that,” said Dier. “He does everything so well, but at the same time he puts his foot down and he’s not going to be bullied. We have to be the same way.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies