England's Eric Dier talks to Spain's Sergio Ramos during their UEFA Nations League match at Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville, October 2018.

Saluting Eric Dier & his fabulous arse-dumper tackle on Sergio Ramos

We all know somebody that deserves a slap. People who claim otherwise are either the children of Mother Teresa or liars.

The reasons why a particular person crawls effortlessly under our skin are varied; perhaps they manage to combine passive-aggression with Main Character Syndrome by drawing up rotas after tidying one stray cup in the kitchen.

Offices are full of these types of folk; loud, overbearing and waffling inane banter to nobody in particular while you’re trying to work.

And then there’s Sergio Ramos. Nobody, quite possibly in the entire history of human civilisation, had made people splutter with impotent rage quite like Ramos.

The Real Madrid and Spain defender was the epitome of grindset culture; somebody not immune to early-morning vitamins, stamping on kittens or utilising experimental martial arts on Mohamed Salah just to fuel his silverware addiction.

And, as he cradled the Champions League trophy in his arms every May, Ramos’ face was always adorned with the kind of shit-eating grin of an American jock with no worries beyond deciding which girl to pick up at the frat party.

Renowned as the global vanguard of shithousery by the time England travelled to Spain for their UEFA Nations League match in October 2018, Ramos’ red shirt turned one opponent into a tearaway bull.

The game was in its opening phases, with Ramos dawdling on the ball in his own penalty area without any sense of impending danger. But, close by, the ears of Eric Dier were puffing out smoke and his right foot was making a ditch in the Seville turf.

Taking the kind of run-up unseen outside of the Olympic triple jump, Dier charged 25 yards to concede a goal kick. That’s the prosaic explanation.

In reality, the Tottenham defender sent Ramos scrambling into the air with all the finesse of a Ryanair jet. As the decorated centre-back lay writhing on the floor, millions across Europe rose to their feet to applaud Dier for acting out their darkest fantasies.

Referee Szymon Marciniak produced a yellow card. A medal would’ve been more appropriate.

“I loved it. A tackle like that can set the tone,” said Sam Allardyce on talkSPORT, his voice barely audible over the smacking of lips.

“It says, ‘we’re going to get stuck in tonight, we’re going to make an impression on Spain in all aspects of the game to win it’.”

Dier was also bullish in the aftermath of his career-defining moment: “He [Ramos] just congratulated me. I just think the ball was there to be won and I think I won it. I don’t think it was a foul or a yellow card, really.

“I think it’s really important that we respect our opponents and Ramos is one of the best of all time, really.

“It’s important to respect them, but at the same time, once we start the game, it’s every man for himself and we have to put our foot down, put a marker down and be aggressive – still with respect, but we have to be aggressive, be on the front foot and show that nothing is going to intimidate us.”

Dier’s tackle was the catalyst for one of the most glorious nights in England’s recent history, winning 3-2 against opponents that still contained members of their 2010 World Cup-winning team.

And seeing Ramos force-fed a mouthful of his own medicine remains a cherished memory for us all. Gracias, Eric.

By Michael Lee

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