England star Eric Dier labels Gareth Southgate criticism ‘crazy’, as he recalls Euro 2016 disaster against Iceland

    ERIC DIER knows what disaster looks like for England.

    At Euro 2016, he felt the chill of the shambolic Iceland defeat — one of the Three Lions’ lowest moments.

    Eric Dier has hit back against criticism of England boss Gareth Southgate

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    Eric Dier has hit back against criticism of England boss Gareth SouthgateCredit: PA
    Southgate has guided England to the semi-finals and finals of the World Cup and Euro's respectively

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    Southgate has guided England to the semi-finals and finals of the World Cup and Euro’s respectivelyCredit: Getty

    Then the Spurs star got redemption as a key man in the run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

    But the versatile defender failed to make the squad that reached the nation’s first major final for 55 years at the Euros last summer.

    So do not tell him Gareth Southgate deserves the berating he got for a dismal Nations League campaign this year.

    Dier said: “It’s crazy talk and perceptions change so quickly.

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    “You’ve got to remember what England were doing before.

    “He has taken England to a World Cup semi and the final of a Euros and we’re talking small margins that change the outcome of those results.

    “The criticism is crazy after a small run of results given how England performed at those tournaments — and he was at the forefront of that.”

    Dier is one of only seven survivors in Qatar from Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for Euro 2016.

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    He said: “I was 21 at that time and it was a great experience for me but a very disappointing tournament for England, so I learned a lot.

    “The World Cup in Russia was a great redemption for us after Euro 2016 and since then there has been an upward trend.

    “People ask if I was upset I didn’t go to the Euros and I say it was obviously the right decision because they got to the final! You have got to keep things in perspective.”

    Dier famously broke England’s penalty shootout hoodoo with the winning kick against Colombia in the last 16 four years ago (right).

    But before an 18-month exile from the  squad ended in September, his hopes of a recall  seemed to be in the balance.

    Dier said: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that was a possibility. Those thoughts go through your mind.

    “When I missed out on the Euros it was one of the worst moments in my career.

    “But I always say that I must have had a pretty good career if that’s one of the worst moments. My club manager Antonio Conte said in the summer I just have to play better.

    “I don’t think he was saying I was playing badly the season before — I think he was just saying I’d have to play even better!

    “Last season — especially since he arrived — I felt like it was some of the best football I’ve played and I feel like I’ve continued that this season.

    “So I’m just grateful to be here now and very proud of myself for how I managed to fight my way back in.

    “I’m also very thankful to the people who supported me and helped me get back here, my family, the manager and all his coaching staff at the club.

    “And also my team-mates at my club, because it was special how supportive they were of me trying to get back in and how happy they were when I did.”

    One of those Tottenham team-mates — and another of the survivors from England’s 2016 low point — is captain Harry Kane.

    The Three Lions talisman not only has to carry the weight of expectation of providing goals but has also found himself acting more and more as a spokesman on issues outside football.

    Dier said: “I have played pretty much all my career with him. One of the great things about him is that he hasn’t really changed. He is still the same.

    “I mean that in the nicest possible way as he  is extremely hard working and extremely humble.

    “I think he holds great values. He has been England captain a while and has had a lot of experience in the role.

    “The last couple of years have been the toughest for him, leading up to this tournament, but he handles it well.

    “The goals speak for themselves. That is down to him as a professional and the way that he works.

    “Seeing him up close, he is just extremely consistent in his behaviour in general and I think that is what leads to his consistency on the pitch.”

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    Until Southgate’s appointment in 2016, the only consistent thing about England for decades was underperformance.

    So it is no wonder Dier is so happy to be a part of the gang again.

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