A tremendous servant to us since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2014, the 23-year-old was rewarded for similar levels of continuity and development with his national team by boss Gareth Southgate when he was made skipper for Friday’s prestigious friendly against old rivals Germany.
The Three Lions were missing a handful of players but still put in a committed shift to hold the reigning world champions to a goalless draw at Wembley – clearly familiar territory for Eric this term as we’re using the national stadium to play our home games.
“It’s obviously a very proud time for me and my family and everyone that’s been with me and helped me along the way,” beamed Eric as he spoke to us after England’s training session at Hotspur Way this afternoon (Monday), around the same time as Southgate announced that he will retain the armband against Brazil on Tuesday night.
“There’s only one thing better than playing for your country and that’s captaining your country. There are not many better individual achievements than that, so it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Turning his attentions to stifling Brazil’s Samba beat, Eric went on: “It’s another very exciting fixture and it’s the first non-European team that I’ll have faced with England apart from a few minutes against Australia, so it’s exciting for me personally in that respect. South American football has its own style so there will be things that will be different and that will be new to us, but we just have to worry about ourselves, do what we’ve been working on, focus on what the manager wants us to do and make sure we give everything.”
Eric could find himself up against former Spur Paulinho in central midfield on Tuesday night, the 29-year-old now very much back in the fray for Brazil and shining for Barcelona at club level, having enjoyed a solid spell in China with Guangzhou Evergrande following his departure from the club in 2015.
“He’s been on a world tour, hasn’t he?” joked Eric, recalling his spell alongside Paulinho in our squad in 2014-15. “He’s gone from China, now back to Europe with Barcelona. It’s great that he’s in the Brazil squad and at Barcelona – it’s fantastic for him and it’ll be nice to see him again. It’s always enjoyable when you play against players who you’ve shared a locker room with – to meet them further down the line is always nice.
“He’s done very well in the last few years and I’m really happy for him. He was always very good to me when I first arrived at Spurs – we spent one season together and he’s a really nice guy.”
While Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks were all forced to withdraw from the England squad due to injury this month, full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose are very much in the picture and Eric was pleased for Danny to be able to continue his comeback from injury with a solid 71-minute stint against Germany on Friday.
“It was great for Danny,” he said. “He’s coming back, he’s progressing really well and I think the great thing is, even though he’s back to such a high level, the real Danny Rose that everyone knows is still to be seen, so that’s quite exciting.”