Eric Dier reckons boss Jose Mourinho’s perfect mix of seriousness and smiles is a key factor in Tottenham ’s early-season success.

The Spurs defender, who started his career at Sporting Lisbon, said: “It has been incredible to be able to work with one of the best managers of all time.

“Obviously, the connection we have with Portugal is also special for me and so in that sense it has been fantastic to learn from him and work with him.

“We’re obviously just at the beginning of our journey but it has been fantastic.

Former Sporting Lisbon youngster Dier says his links to Portugal have given him a connection with Mourinho

“He’s extremely serious and professional when it comes to work and I’d say he’s the first to be serious when it’s time to be serious, but he’s also the first to have a laugh and a joke when it’s time for that as well.

“He can do both and always in the right time.

“Having someone who has been there and done it on so many occasions on the biggest stages obviously carries a lot of weight in the dressing-room whenever he does speak and whenever he expresses his opinions towards how he feels we need to change to do better, to be able to go to that next step.

Mourinho knows the right time to work and play, according to Dier

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“Obviously everyone’s ears are open because his resume speaks for itself.

“So whenever he speaks on anything, everyone is paying a lot attention to it.

“He also gives us a lot of confidence as well because he obviously has all the titles to back it up, so you really believe in it.”

Spurs are riding high in the Premier League and go into today’s clash with Arsenal full of confidence.

Speaking at the WebSummit conference, Dier added: “I’m very excited for the north London derby for many reasons — it’s the first of the season and to have fans back in the stadium for it couldn’t be better.

Dier's recent form has seen a return to England's starting line-up

“Albeit 2,000, but we’ll take what we can get.

“I’m very excited for the game, very confident that we’re going through a very good period and we want to keep that going, so I’m looking forward to it.”

With so few fans allowed into Tottenham’s gleaming new ground, Dier will still be able to hear everything Arsenal’s players are saying.

He said: “The advantages of having no crowd since lockdown aren’t more than the disadvantages but it’s a lot easier to hear each other, and to be able to hear your team-mates and manager gives you a huge advantage.

“I find it very interesting be able to hear the opposition players as well, purely because you get a much better understanding as to what their personality is on the football pitch."