England's Eric Dier talks Simon Hart through his free-kick against Russia, the new-look midfield and Thursday's Group B derby against Wales – "We have to win no matter what".
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Here's a question for Eric Dier: can you remember taking a single free-kick for Tottenham Hotspur this season?
The answer – from the man who struck England's dead-ball goal against Russia last Saturday – comes with a laugh: "No, I don't think so." Happily, in the tall, strong, intelligent 22-year-old midfielder, it seems England have found the player for the big occasion. He reflects here on his Marseille goal, England's new-look midfield, and Thursday's Group B derby with Wales.
How did it feel when that free-kick hit the back of the net?
It was crazy. It's a thing you dream about as a kid, really, scoring at a European Championship, especially being on the side where our fans were. It was an unbelievable feeling and one that I won't forget for a long time.
How come it was you and not Wayne Rooney or Harry Kane who took that free-kick?
I've just been practising them a lot during the time I've been away with England, and it's something I've always enjoyed doing since I was little. Obviously Wayne took the first one, so I think he put his trust in me; he's seen what I can do during the weeks of being together and, yes, he put his trust in me. I'm grateful for that, and thankfully I scored.
A big talking point after the game in Marseille was the new-look England midfield. How did it work from your perspective?
I felt very good. Obviously, I play with Dele [Alli] every week, so that's quite easy, and then Wayne being a world-class footballer, it's quite easy to play with him anywhere. If you're playing with someone who you've played with for a long time, and another one who's been one of the best for a long, long time, it's not that hard to click together. I think we had a very good understanding and it worked out well.
With England drawing and Wales winning, does that put added pressure on England going into Thursday's game?
No, I don't think so. It's a game we have to win, no matter what the result was against Russia. I don't think our mentality has changed because of the draw; we have to win no matter what.
The threat of Gareth Bale has been well documented. How are you going to deal with him?
[Laughs] I don't know! We're looking at dealing with Wales as a team, not as any individuals. Obviously he's a fantastic player, but Wales have lots of other good players so we're not giving any one person special attention. They'll be well organised and we have to fight Wales as a team, not just one man.
Finally, how exciting is it to be playing in a big derby game on the EURO stage?
I think every game at a European Championship is a massive game, every game's important, every game's like a final, so I don't think this one is any more special than the game against Russia or the game against Slovakia. We know it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere [because] it's one of the smaller stadiums and I think you might see a game which is a bit less of an international game, and more of a British football game, like you might see in the Premier League, because of the players and teams involved.