England star Eric Dier has a vested interest in the continued evolution of American soccer talent – and he will come face to face with the most prominent example of it this week.
Dier’s Tottenham Hotspur will seek to close out its Champions League round of 16 clash with Christian Pulisic’s Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Tottenham already holds a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg two weeks ago.
And while Dier hopes to end Pulisic’s chances of winning the most prestigious trophy in club soccer, he intends to be directly responsible for increasing the skill level of future American prospects by setting up a training school that kicks off this summer in Massachusetts.
Pulisic was signed by Chelsea in a $73 million deal in January and will formally link up with the English Premier League side in the summer, but there are still plenty of improvements that can be made to the way this country unearths elite young players.
“Pulisic is a very talented player, still so young, with huge potential, and that’s obviously why Chelsea have bought him,” Dier told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview. “Obviously everyone in America is excited to see him playing in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see what he does here in England.”
Dier, who scored the winning penalty kick for England in its nerve-wracking shootout victory over Colombia in the round of 16 of last summer’s World Cup, decided to launch his training program for youngsters due to his close ties with the U.S. It will be held at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass.
Two of Dier’s siblings live in America and he regularly spends large parts of his summers here, whether hanging out in New York or driving down the California coast. Despite the dismal failure of the U.S. national team to qualify for the World Cup, he believes the future of the American game is bright.
“The main objective for me personally is to create something where kids can come and take advantage of all the good things that football can give you, in every way, not just from a technical point of view, but all the social values that come with it as well,” he added.
“On the pitch and off the pitch you learn so much in so many different ways and hopefully this week can do that. And obviously that would be fantastic if we were able to find a special new talent for the American game and help them fulfill their dreams.”
Tottenham enjoys strong popularity in the States, thanks in large part to its rise over recent seasons, becoming a regular Premier League contender. That bid seems destined to fall short again this season, with Liverpool and Manchester City soaring clear at the top of the EPL table. But there may never be a better chance to do damage in the Champions League, with three-time defending title-holder Real Madrid mired in a miserable run of form.
“I feel like we’ve been on this upwards curve for three or four years now,” Dier said. “I think we’re in a really good place. Everyone at the club is ready for something big and special to happen. We have made some big strides, but we are not done yet.”
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