Neil Humphreys: It’s Dier to be collecting fowls
The sporting world may have come to a halt, but footballers are at least entertaining us with their lockdown antics. Here are some of our columnist's favourites
In a quiet corner of north London, Eric Dier is playing with his chickens.
It wasn't so long ago when someone fooling around with chickens was a euphemism (and was indeed a popular pastime around parts of Geylang, until that particular service was deemed non-essential).
But in these dispiriting times, it's reassuring to know that a wealthy, famous footballer is playing with actual chickens in his back garden.
Dier has certainly chosen wisely.
He plays for Tottenham Hotspur, home of the golden cockerel, so he's settled on a member of the fowl family, allowing him to literally "talk cock" every morning.
But it would be unwise for other isolating footballers to follow Dier's lead and play with their club emblems.
Mesut Oezil can't play with guns. Though, in fairness, the midfielder doesn't need an arsenal. He's already committing daylight robbery with his Gunners salary.
The prospect of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy tending to a couple of squabbling foxes might be fun though. He's got experience. He dealt with the Rebekah Vardy-Coleen Rooney spat last year.
Really, the emblem thing works only with Dier's poultry. No one wants to see Troy Deeney running around his garden screaming, hoping not to be stung to death by hornets.
And Singapore's Lions can't get any ideas either. It's hard to get a lion with the Singapore Zoo closed and Joe Exotic in prison. Besides, HDB allows only those little pet dogs that look like sausages on legs.
But we are blessed with Dier's chicken anecdotes.
When he revealed to a riveted public that his favourite bird was called Margot, nervous Tottenham teammates checked their diaries for any drunken entries involving "a bird called Margot".
It gets even better. The green-fingered Dier has cultivated a vegetable patch and sends photos of his potatoes to baffled teammates.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when a confused Tanguy Ndombele opens a photo of one of Dier's potatoes and says, "Why does Eric keep sending me photos of the back of his head?"
But Dier isn't our only Tottenham source of amusement during the circuit breaker. In a social media chat, he revealed that Ryan Sessegnon has been playing Monopoly.
The English left-back presumably acquires prestigious London properties on the board and then refuses to pay up when he's short of cash. He likes to play the Tottenham way.
Meanwhile, Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko have made donations to the British National Health Service after confusing "social distancing" with "sitting next to each other and gossiping like two stubborn aunties in a coffee shop".
Manager Jose Mourinho was rather pleased. Sissoko hasn't communicated with a Spurs teammate this effectively all season.
Dele Alli, on the other hand, has revelled in his isolation. He has posted photographs mocking himself at his birthday party of one.
The best photo was the one of him playing Twister alone, which wouldn't be the first time he's found himself in a tricky position before falling over.
But the fun and games are not exclusive to Tottenham.
Paul Pogba has been using his mother to practise his nutmegs.
On a recent video, the Manchester United midfielder slips the ball impeccably between his mother's legs - a sentence that would've been unthinkable a month ago.
Pogba wasn't seen anywhere near a football a month ago.
The video shoot for Mother Nutmeg didn't take a minute, but Pogba's agent needed six months beforehand to negotiate the image rights.
Thankfully, we will always have the gloriously, self-deprecating James Milner.
Mocking his dull persona, the Liverpool midfielder continues to share videos of him sharpening pencils or counting teabags.
As we hunker down in isolation, we need a boring man to get through these boring times. We are all in this together. We are all James Milner.