Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matchdays – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.
Today, as England prepare to face Switzerland in the inaugural Nations League Third Place Play-Off, we look back at a former Hammers and England midfielder. Kieron Dyer was born in Ipswich on 29th December 1978 and came through the youth system at his hometown club, making his full debut in 1996. He played for England Under-20s and Under-21s, as well as the B team, and made 112 appearances in his first spell at Ipswich, scoring 12 goals.
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After reaching the Play-Offs in each of his three seasons as a first team player at Portman Road but failing to secure a promotion, Dyer joined Premier League Newcastle in the summer of 1999 for a fee of £6m, with the Magpies outbidding Harry Redknapp’s West Ham to clinch his signature. He was the only English player signed by Ruud Gullit during his spell as Newcastle’s manager. The 20-year-old Dyer made his England debut at right-back under Kevin Keegan in a 6-0 European Championship qualifying win against Luxembourg at Wembley on 4th September 1999. He missed out on a place in Keegan’s Euro 2000 squad but was selected in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s party for the 2002 World Cup, and made three substitute appearances against Sweden, Denmark and Brazil. Dyer was also part of Eriksson’s 23-man squad for Euro 2004 in Portugal, and made one substitute appearance against Switzerland, detailed at the end of this piece. He missed out on a place at the 2006 World Cup due to a hamstring injury.
After eight seasons at St James’ Park, taking in 250 appearances and 36 goals, Dyer moved to Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United for £6m in August 2007, joining up with former Newcastle team-mates Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy (who had both signed for the Hammers earlier in the summer) and Lee Bowyer. The 28-year-old Dyer played the full 90 minutes of his Hammers debut in a 1-0 victory at Birmingham on 18th August 2007. Four days later, Dyer won his 33rd and final England cap against Germany in a 2-1 friendly defeat at Wembley. Dyer never scored a senior goal for his country.
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Dyer also played the full 90 minutes of his home debut for the Irons, a 1-1 home draw with Wigan, but disaster struck at Bristol Rovers in a League Cup second round match when Dyer broke both the tibia and fibula of his right leg following a tackle by Joe Jacobsen. Dyer himself takes up the tale, writing in his autobiography:
“Breaking my leg in 2007 was the beginning of a long, debilitating, dispiriting process that killed my career. It led to the West Ham hierarchy trying to shame me, because I played so few games for the club. I’d tell any young injured player to get the best person available to look after you. West Ham didn’t feel it was necessary to do that. I wish I’d taken control and stuck up for myself. You start to hate yourself because you can’t get back to doing the thing you love – and you get slammed by the press, owners and fans.”
Dyer made his return just over 16 months later as a substitute in a 3-0 FA Cup third round home win against Barnsley on 3rd January 2009. He didn’t start a match until April 2009. Dyer goes on to discuss how he became embarrassed to say he had an injury, saying that he had played on after suffering an injury on more than one occasion to avoid the “shame” of walking off the pitch.
“Later at West Ham I felt my thigh pop with my last kick of training. My heart sank. I was in pain but it was nothing compared to the dread, disappointment and embarrassment flooding over me. I couldn’t tell the physio so I said my thigh was tight, even though I knew I’d pulled it. I was trying to convince myself too. On the morning of our first game of the 2009/10 season [at Wolves] we did a fitness test in the hotel corridor. Stabbing pains were shooting through my thigh with every stride I took but somehow I passed and played with a grade one tear in my thigh.”
Dyer didn’t score in 35 appearances for the club and donned the claret and blue for the final time as a substitute in a 3-1 League Cup semi-final second leg defeat at Birmingham in January 2011.
“After I left West Ham, joint chairman David Gold said I had cost the club £16million in fees and wages. That was a classy touch. When Gold and David Sullivan bought the club they talked about the extraordinary wages West Ham were paying and how one player who had barely played ought to have the decency to retire. The arrow was pointing right at me. West Ham fans would say what a waste of money I was. I didn’t score a goal for them in four years and didn’t play four or five games on the trot, ever. But you know what? Every time I went out there, they were brilliant with me and I will always remember that. It kills me that they didn’t even see a fraction of what I once was.”
Dyer had a loan spell at Ipswich in 2011 as the Hammers struggled vainly against relegation and moved permanently to QPR on a free transfer in the summer of that year. He retired after a short spell at Middlesbrough in 2013. Now 40, Dyer is the assistant manager of Ipswich’s Under-18 side.
Switzerland v England
England face Switzerland this afternoon in the Nations League Third Place Play-Off – it will be the 26th meeting between the two nations. The pair have met in a European Championships Finals on two previous occasions, with the Three Lions winning one of those games on Portuguese soil, 3-0 in the group stages at Euro 2004. The match was played in front of 30,616 at the Estadio Municipal de Coimbra on 17th June 2004. Mario Winana featuring Enya and P Diddy was number one with ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban topped the UK box office and Ken Livingstone had just been announced as the winner of the election for Mayor of London.
Switzerland fell behind after 23 minutes when Everton’s Wayne Rooney converted a Michael Owen cross to register his sixth goal for the Three Lions, becoming (at the time) the youngest player to score in a European Championship. Swiss right-back Bernt Haas was sent off on the hour mark for picking up two yellow cards and Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England doubled their lead with 15 minutes left when Rooney’s rifled shot hit the post and richocheted off goalkeeper Jorg Stiel’s head into the net. Steven Gerrard completed the scoring in the 82nd minute when he turned home Gary Neville’s cross. Today’s featured player, Kieron Dyer, came on as a substitute for Rooney a minute later.
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Switzerland: Jorg Stiel (captain, Borussia Monchengladbach), Bernt Haas (West Brom), Patrick Muller (Lyon), Murat Yakin (Basel), Christoph Spycher (Grasshopper), Fabio Celestini (Marseille), Raphael Wicky (Hamburg), Benjamin Huggel (Basel), Hakan Yakin (Stuttgart), Stephane Chapuisat (Young Boys), Alexander Frei (Rennes).
Subs: Daniel Gygax (Zurich) for Chapuisat; Ricardo Cabanas (Grasshopper) for Celestini; Johann Vonlanthen (PSV) for Hakan Yakin.
England: David James (Man City), Gary Neville (Man Utd), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), David Beckham (captain, Real Madrid), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Paul Scholes (Man Utd), Wayne Rooney (Everton), Michael Owen (Liverpool).
Subs: Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) for Scholes, Darius Vassell (Aston Villa) for Owen, Kieron Dyer (Newcastle) for Rooney.
The previous articles in the series are:
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Frank Lampard Junior