By Will Butcher
Tottenham starlet Eric Dier has claimed that the last 12 months as a professional footballer have been the “best” of his short career.
The 22-year-old has become one of the Premier League’s brightest prospects after breaking his way into Spurs and England’s midfield last season.
But he has lost his regular central midfield spot in recent weeks following the summer arrival of Victor Wanyama from Southampton.
In Mauricio Pochettino’s new 4-1-4-1 formation, there is only one place for a midfield anchorman and that role has gone to Wanyama, while Dier has had to settle for a utility role.
Nonetheless, Dier is delighted at the level he has reached for club and country.
“I always believed in myself to reach this level and play for England,” Dier told Sky Sports. “I always had that in my mind and it’s been my aim from quite a young age. When I was at Sporting [Lisbon] I believed I could do it.
“It was a fantastic 12 months, a whirlwind really. They’ve been the best in my career and the best memories I’ve had in football so far.”
Dier, who has played at midfield anchorman, centre-back and right back for Spurs, has won 13 caps for England after making his debut against Spain in November 2015.
“I always believed in myself to reach this level and play for England,” the midfielder added. “I always had that in my mind and it’s been my aim from quite a young age.
“When I was at Sporting [Lisbon] I knew there was a long way to go but I believed I could do it. For it all to come so quickly though, one after the other, I never expected it.”
The Cheltenham-born star was one of England’s only players at Euro 2016 to have played to an acceptable standard, after scoring a wonderful free-kick against Russia.
In just nine league and cup appearances for Mauricio Pochettino’s side this season, Dier’s control between the defence and midfield has seen the North London side keep five clean sheets.
Dier is set to line up at centre-back against Bournemouth on Saturday, as Spurs know that a win could see them move to the top of the Premier League.
In other Tottenham news, Pochettino has revealed talks with this player ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter.