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Eric Dier defends Dele over diving controversy

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Dier thinks the “Dele is a diver” narrative is overblown, and suggests Dele doesn’t really care what people think

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Eric Dier is best friends to Dele Alli, so you know he’s going to defend his Tottenham Hotspur teammate. Dele is under fire from fans and pundits right now who accuse him of regularly diving to earn calls in matches.

The fires were stoked after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace after Dele was involved in two incidents in the Crystal Palace box: one with Palace’s Patrick Van Aanholt, and another with keeper Wayne Hennessey. Both, it should be noted, were waved off by match official Kevin Friend.

Dier, who knows Dele and plays with him in virtually every match, was quick to jump in and defend his friend and teammate from the accusations that he over-embellishes and looks to go over easy in the box.

“Obviously, because it’s Dele, I think it probably gets more attention than it deserves. It’s difficult sometimes because, if you take the action in the game against Liverpool where he got booked for diving, I was standing right behind him.

“When he’s running towards the ball, he’s taken a touch and it looks like the guy is about to come and take him out. There a sense of ‘I need to get out of the way’. If he (the opponent) then goes and stops, it’s difficult. That’s a difficult situation.”

Dele’s been slammed by English football pundits, including Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker, the latter of whom referred to Dele as “Divey Alli” in a tweet.

Dier, however, doesn’t think that this will have any affect on Dele, because he’s not one to care about what people say about him.

“That’s the great thing about Dele. I don’t think he pays any attention to it and I think that’s the most important thing. All he needs to pay attention to is the way that his team-mates the manager sees him. The way that his family sees him. The rest really is irrelevant.

“One of the beautiful things about football is that everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t mean everyone’s opinion is right. It’s difficult because nowadays with Twitter and Instagram and every other social media outlet, and the internet, everyone has an opinion and you have to sift through it to find the right one.

“That’s why I say for every footballer, myself included, we just need to focus on the people that matter to us – the manager, our team-mates and our family. I don’t think what anyone else says should really bother us.”

It’s unlikely that any of this will dramatically affect the way Dele plays, though it may affect the calls that he gets. His position and importance to Tottenham’s offense means that he’s going to be the focus of attention for opposition defenders in and around the box. He’s going to get tackled, and he’s going to go down, so it’s unlikely that this controversy will be going away any time soon. The only thing we can do is hope that eventually focus shifts to someone else in the court of public opinion.