Dele Alli opens up in an interview with Gary Neville

Many wonder: what happened to Dele Alli? One of the key players of the English national team has fallen into obscurity. In an interview with Manchester United legend Gary Neville, he opens up about football, drugs, and his childhood traumas.

The Expectation Surrounding Dele Alli

Bamidele Jermaine Alli, or simply Dele Alli, was born in Milton Keynes on April 11, 1996.

His father, Kehinde Kenny Alli, comes from the royal lineage of Nigeria, which interestingly makes Dele Alli a part of the Nigerian royal family as well.

His parents divorced when Dele was still very young, causing his father to move to the United States. Dele Alli, on the other hand, stayed with his mother, who struggled with alcoholism, in Milton Keynes.

Due to his mother’s apparent inability to provide a healthy and safe environment for him and his three other siblings, the boy went to live in Nigeria with his father’s family, where he stayed from the age of 9 to 11.

He then returned to Milton Keynes, but to a different home. Dele Alli was taken in by the Hickford family, who, although not legally adopting him, are considered his foster family.

In December 2012, he made his professional debut for his hometown team, MK Dons. He quickly caught the attention of both the national and international market.

Dele Alli to Tottenham: Latest Transfer Details, Comments and Reaction | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

Image: Getty Images

Three years later, he showcased his football skills to the world after being signed by Tottenham for £5 million.

With the Spurs, success was immediate. In his debut season, he scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in 46 games. Tottenham secured a third-place finish in the Premier League.

The synergy with Son, Kane, and Eriksen flowed seamlessly, establishing Dele Alli as one of the great hopes of the English national team, in addition to earning him the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season award in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons.

Dele Alli bittersweet despite first goal for Tottenham Hotspur

Image: Getty Images

At just 19 years old, he became a regular starter for the England national team, representing them in the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup.

Dele Alli finally finds the freedom to make his mark on world stage | World Cup 2018 | The Guardian

Image: Matthias Schrader/AP

The year 2018 marked the peak of his market value, reaching €100 million.

It was anticipated that Dele Alli would follow the path of football’s greatest players and would soon join the ranks of top clubs in the world, enjoying a successful career filled with achievements. However, from that point on, his performance started to decline, eventually hitting rock bottom.

In January 2022, he left Tottenham and joined Everton on a free transfer. During his time at Spurs, he played 269 games, scoring 67 goals and providing 61 assists.

The change of scenery did not alter his football form. Alli played 13 games for Everton without being involved in any goals.

The negative streak led to his loan to Besiktas JK in Turkey. Dele Alli did play there, scoring 3 goals in 15 games, but he suffered a partial muscle fracture at the end of February, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Thus, his loan spell came to an end, and he was returned to Everton. This is the chronological point where Dele Alli’s career currently stands.

Interview with Gary Neville

The interview between Gary Neville and Dele Alli, posted by The Overlap channel on July 13, 2023, was simply explosive.

Gary Neville considers Dele Alli an old acquaintance, as they worked together in the English national team in 2015 and 2016.

Dele Alli opened up about mental health, drug abuse, and childhood sexual abuse.

The Englishman begins the interview by talking about the injury he sustained while at Besiktas and how devastated he was to learn that he needed surgery. As a result, he took advantage of the downtime and headed to the United States, where he immersed himself in a six-week rehabilitation program.

Dele Alli reveals that he has been dependent on anti-anxiety medication and controlled substances for some time, as he struggled with sleeping difficulties. In addition, he frequently consumed alcohol.

Gary Neville tries to understand the reasons behind his decline in performance and substance abuse. Therefore, in a courageous act, Dele Alli brings to light all the reasons he believes have led him to this stage.

Dele Alli and Gary Neville break down in tears as Everton man reveals heartbreaking trauma

Image: The Overlap

Sexual abuse

As reported, Dele’s mother struggled with alcoholism. As a result, their home was always filled with friends and strangers. The young man doesn’t go into details about the incident but states that at the age of 6, he was allegedly sexually abused by one of his mother’s friends.

Drug dealing

As expected, Dele was going through an extremely troubled period in his life. He also reveals that at the age of 7, he started smoking, and by the age of 8, he was transporting drugs for local drug dealers. According to him, the dealers believed that a child on a bicycle wearing football clothes would not be suspected of carrying narcotics.

Life in Nigeria and Relationship with Biological Parents

The unstable behavior (understandably) of the 9-year-old child made his mother realize that it was not a safe environment for him. Therefore, she sent Dele to join his father in Nigeria.

He lived there for 6 months. The initial idea was for him to spend a year in a strict school to “straighten out” his behavior. Obviously, he didn’t adapt well to the authoritarian system organized by his father and soon returned to England.

From then on, he severed contact with his father, even stating that Kehinde Kenny Alli is extremely opportunistic.

On the other hand, there was an outlet. At the age of 11, he was adopted by the Hickford family, who provided the love and care that Dele had not yet experienced in a family environment. They were instrumental in his development, and he openly expresses his love and gratitude for the Hickfords.

Rehabilitation in the US and the Impact of Mourinho’s Remarks

As mentioned earlier, Dele Alli spent six weeks in rehabilitation in the United States. According to him, it was an incredible period during which, accompanied by therapists, he was able to better understand his childhood traumas and share them with people who had gone through similar situations.

He says he is in the best phase of his life, which is why he felt more comfortable sharing all these points.

Another topic discussed was the conversation revealed in the Tottenham documentary between him and José Mourinho.

In it, Mourinho tells Dele that he is a great player but is wasting his career due to a lack of focus. At another point, Mourinho reportedly called the midfielder “lazy.”

Dele Alli emphasizes that a week later, Mourinho approached him and apologized for what happened. He regrets that in today’s world, only the negative repercussions are highlighted on social media.

He also reveals that at the age of 24, he wanted to retire, which caused great unhappiness in his life, but now he is rediscovering his passion for football.

Furthermore, he highlights the special relationship he built with Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff and the inability to establish bonds with subsequent coaches because he felt that the conversations with them were not “real” like the ones he had with the Argentine.

Mental Health in Sports

With the increasing speed of information and the way the world is shaped today, cases of depression and anxiety are becoming more frequent.

Sports mirrors life, and athletes are not immune to this. The very important message conveyed by Dele Alli is that it is necessary to seek help. According to him, we cannot and should not try to solve all our problems alone. It is important to seek the help of professionals and family so that we can open up about our traumas and concerns and gain a better understanding of ourselves.

Do you believe Dele Alli can turn things around in sports and in life? Here, we’re rooting for him.

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Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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Tags: International Football, Highlights

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