Eric Dier was thrilled to discover he would be on the plane for Qatar but has revealed he feared never playing for England again – let alone making this year’s World Cup squad.
The Tottenham centre-back was included in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad on Thursday, having only earned a Three Lions recall in September.
Prior to his starts against Italy and Germany during the last international camp, Dier had not represented his country since 2020 and subsequently missed out on being involved in England’s run to the Euros final last year.
Spurs defender Dier was a mainstay of Southgate’s side at the last World Cup in Russia and is excited to be given the chance to create another “incredible experience” during the next month.
He said: “I am extremely proud to play at my second World Cup. Obviously I am well aware it is a very privileged position to be in.
“There was a time when I thought I wasn’t going to be in any way involved with England anymore.
“I have had to work very hard and fight a lot to get back in. I am very proud of that. I am proud to be going to another World Cup, I can’t wait.
“It is going to be an incredible experience. I am really looking forward to being a part of it.”
Antonio Conte’s arrival at Tottenham last November has coincided with Dier playing the best football of his career and he could start for England when they begin their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21.
Mistakes have crept back into the versatile footballer’s game during recent weeks, but the caveat is the relentless schedule he and his Spurs team-mates have faced.
10' Spurs 0-1 Leeds25' Spurs 1-1 Leeds43' Spurs 1-2 Leeds51' Spurs 2-2 Leeds76' Spurs 2-3 Leeds81' Spurs 3-3 Leeds83' Spurs 4-3 Leeds
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 12, 2022
Tottenham concluded a gruelling 43-day period where they played 13 matches with a 4-3 win over Leeds on Saturday and Dier conceded it has taken its toll.
“The schedule is crazy. I have never experienced anything like it in my life, playing every three days for I don’t know how long it has been,” the 28-year-old insisted.
“I don’t even know how long it been, it feels like a year but it’s been about six weeks? It’s been really tough for everyone, at every club, players, staff and medical departments, coaching staff.
“It’s been a tough period and I am just really happy to get through it with no injuries! In general we have done well to get through it.
“Disappointed with a few results towards the end, but I think everyone has experienced that – you look at Man City (losing to Brentford) – so, it’s been a tough period for everyone.”
Spurs’ lack of consistency over the last two months has not been helped by injuries to Dejan Kukusevski and Richarlison, but they have ended the first chunk of the campaign in the last-16 of the Champions League and fourth in the Premier League.
Club boss Conte admitted – after the dramatic seven-goal comeback thriller against Leeds at the weekend – that a lack of time on the training pitch had contributed to their leaky defence.
Dier added: “I think it has been a good first half of the season. We are in the Champions League and the top four. For us it was really important to finish with a win.
— England (@England) November 10, 2022
“It was a hard struggle. We made it difficult for ourselves, we have been doing that recently, but at the same time they are a very good side, they have had a lot of big results, against some top teams, beat Liverpool away.
“It is frustrating to keep on having to come back, it’s frustrating but at the same time we have a lot of belief in ourselves.
“We knew if we got the equaliser we could go on and win. Even when we were 3-2 down we felt like if we got that equaliser we would win. We are just conceding too many goals at the moment, that is the problem.”