Everton midfielder Dele Alli has revealed he was sexually abused at the age of six and subsequently struggled with addiction.
The England international told Gary Neille on The Overlap that he spent 6 weeks in rehab in the U.S over the summer.
Dele Alli opened up on his troubled upbringing and the effect this has had on his football career. Until now, we have wondered why such a talented player was not fulfilling his potential. This would appear to be why – a lesson we can all learn about criticising public figures.
“At six, I was molested,” Dele Alli said.
“I was sent to Africa to learn discipline. Then I was sent back. Seven, I started smoking. Eight I started dealing drugs, selling drugs. An older person told me they wouldn’t stop a kid so I’d ride around with my football and then underneath I’d have the drugs.
“Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate. At 12, I was adopted. And from then, I was adopted by an amazing family, I couldn’t have asked for better people to do what they’ve done for me… If God created people, it was them. They are amazing and have helped me a lot.
“I got addicted to sleeping tablets and it’s probably not a problem only I have. I think it’s something that’s going around more than people realise in football.”
In an environment like professional mens football, telling this story is an astonishingly brave thing to do. The way Alli has done this suggests he wants to put his issues behind him and focus on his career.
A reunion with former manager Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea has been mooted. While we await his return to the pitch, we commend Dele Alli for his courage and honesty, and wish him every possible success in reclaiming his mental health.