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Eric Dier: I’m English, but Portugal is my home

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Tottenham’s defensive midfield star opens up about growing up overseas and why he rejected opportunities to play for Portugal.

England v Scotland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Eric Dier didn’t have the usual football upbringing for an England international footballer. He moved with his family to Portugal when he was seven and came up through Sporting’s academy, playing 27 games for Sporting’s first team before being purchased by Tottenham Hotspur in 2014.

Two years later, Dier is a fixture in England’s national team, and he said that despite Portugal winning Euro 2016 this past summer, he never really considered playing his international football for them.

"If England can't win anything then I want Portugal to win. I was very happy for them, but never once did I think I should be playing for Portugal. Once when I was younger they had spoken to Sporting about it, but nothing really came of it. It's a bit late to turn around now!

"I'm English. I've never said the opposite. I'm 100 per cent English. In Portugal it happens that a lot of Brazilians play for Portugal and they're not Portuguese.

"When I was growing up I wasn't a big fan of that. When I grew up, I always had the idea that I would play for England. I'm fully English, but Portugal is my home."

Dier has made statements in the past about how, despite being English, he’s at times felt a little strange in his homeland thanks to his upbringing overseas. English fans are likely to be glad that he chose to play his international football for the country of his birth rather than the country where he feels the most at home.

Dier and England will take on Spain in an international friendly this coming Tuesday evening. Kickoff is 8:00 p.m. UK (3:00 p.m. ET) at Wembley Stadium.