Jose Mourinho hailed Eric Dier for an effort level that was “not human” against Chelsea, despite the defender having had to leave the pitch for an unscheduled comfort break.
Spurs triumphed 5-4 on penalties in the EFL Cup last 16, Mason Mount missing the crucial kick after Erik Lamela’s equaliser had cancelled out Timo Werner’s strike in normal time.
During the second half, Dier headed back to the dressing room to use the toilets and was pursued by Mourinho, the England international then seen running back to the pitch soon afterwards.
Mourinho put Dier’s hasty disappearance down to dehydration, the 26-year-old having been the only outfield player to have kept his place in the starting line-up from the 1-1 Premier League draw with Newcastle United two days ago.
Yet the Spurs boss had nothing but praise for the efforts of Dier, who also scored in the shoot-out.
“When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go!”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 29, 2020
“What happened to Eric Dier is not normal,” he told Sky Sports. “I have to praise him in a special way.
“The football authorities, with so many rules that are at this moment in place, should be forbidden to play in 48 hours two matches of this intensity. Newcastle was a Premier League match and this one, if you want to say, is at a Premier League level.
“He had to go. Maybe it’s a normal thing when you’re completely dehydrated and have nothing in your muscles, which was the case. I knew he had to go, I was just trying to put some pressure on him to have him back for the remaining time.
“He was a great example for everybody in playing these two matches. Of course, if the football authorities don’t care about players, I care. Of course, Eric Dier cannot play the match on Thursday [against Maccabi Haifa].
“What Eric Dier did is not human. There are so many rules about everything, but Eric did what he did. All the other players were phenomenal. [Japhet] Tanganga, not even a friendly, but all the boys were phenomenal.”
Dier himself explained: “He wasn’t happy, but there was nothing I could do about it really. Nature was calling.
“I heard there was a chance when I wasn’t on the pitch, but thankfully they didn’t score and we’ve ended up with the win.
“We’ve had a lot of games against Chelsea, a lot of tight games, they’ve always ended up falling their way, so for one to fall our way is a very nice feeling.”
6 – Chelsea have lost six of their last eight League Cup penalty shootouts, including all three at the fourth-round stage (also vs Burnley in 2008-09 and Stoke in 2015-16). Insurmountable. pic.twitter.com/hSRofeMuBv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 29, 2020
Before the game, Mourinho had effectively discounted challenging for the trophy due to the packed fixture schedule, with Spurs facing Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday and Manchester United in the league next Sunday.
“I said before the game we would be ready to fight, and we were ready to fight. I told the players before the penalties that I did not care about what happened with the penalties, I care about what they did,” he said.
“They were the best team, they were magnificent. Second half, a super team like Chelsea looked an ordinary team – they are not, they are a super team. We played so, so well.
“The team managed to wait for the right moments because I told the players they should only think about this game. I have to think about three games at the same time. They were phenomenal – all the credit to the boys, I cannot believe in 48 hours we are playing a European game. They were phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.
“I just told them that we were going to wait for the moment to change the system which is not our system, a system we are not used to playing. We tried to organise the team with the players we had available.”
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