Dele Alli reveals he used to hang around on streets until 2am when he was 12… but football changed him

Dele Alli reveals he used to hang around on streets until 2am when he was 12… but football changed him

Nigerian born English footballer, Dele Ali has made a stunning transition from League One to the top of the game, and is rated as the second most valuable player in world football and valued at a staggering £136.1million by Swiss number-crunchers.

It is real numbers, rather than fantasy ones, that count, however.

Dele Ali’s 32 goals in his first two seasons at Tottenham are the unquestionable proof of the impact he has made under Mauricio Pochettino since his £5m switch from MK Dons.

Yet the 21-year-old was seemingly destined for the wrong side of the law as he grew up in the Buckinghamsire new town.
Dele Ali confessed: “I got into trouble a few times when I was younger. I hung around with the wrong people.

“With the older boys, I tried to do what they did. We weren’t in a very good area. Football gave me the opportunity to actually put my energy into something else than hanging out on the street at 12 years old until 2am.”

Crime’s loss was, quite clearly, football’s gain.

And if Spurs and England are to realise their respective ambitions over the next 12 months, there is no doubting that Dele Ali will be central to the plans of both Pochettino and Gareth Southgate.

Pochettino and his Tottenham side will have to get used to the new surroundings of Wembley very quickly — starting with this weekend’s International Champions Cup clash with Juventus.

But the Argentine will want more of the same from one of his key links.

Spurs may not have been busy in the transfer market so far this summer, although Poch is determined to make some signings by the time the window shuts.

Dele told September’s issue of GQ magazine that last term’s near-miss has only fuelled Tottenham’s determination.

Dele Ali was featured in September's GQ magazine

Dele Ali was featured in September’s GQ magazine to be out on thursday

He said: “I think we’re inches away from winning the Premier League. Maybe another player or two players is all we need.”

As for his own contribution, Dele conceded it was as much about instinct as work on the training ground.

Fitness plays a factor, of course, with Pochettino’s tough drills breeding a staying power that sustained Tottenham through that end of season run of 11 wins from 12 games that pushed Chelsea all the way and saw Spurs tot up a club record Premier league tally of 86 points.

But it is intuition and that priceless ability to see a situation developing and strike with a cobra’s deadly intent that has elevated Dele Ali into the stratosphere.

He added: “I think a lot of my goals come from anticipating play.

Dele Ali celebrates after scoring for spurs

Dele Ali celebrates after scoring for spurs
Photography: PA

“It’s about just constantly thinking and trying to predict what’s going to happen.

“When you’re in the box, it’s all quick-quick-quick.

“So you’ve got to sort of guess what’s going to happen next. Where the ball might fall, so you can get that extra yard on the defender.”

After the goals, the celebrations. Rival fans might have mocked the bizarre rituals dreamed up by Dele Ali, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane but the trio love the fun of the moment.

According to Dele Ali, it is all down to the Korean.

He said: “Son has one of those handshakes for everyone. And he insists on doing each of them every morning when he comes into training. It takes ages!”

And it was a celebration picture of him and Son that represents Dele Ali’s abiding and final memory of the last game at White Hart Lane, which was demolished after Spurs beat Manchester United to seal second place in May.

The blown-up shot of the pair wheeling away from goal was hanging on inside the old Spurs dressing room — before Dele Ali yanked it off and took it away.

He added: “It’s still at the training ground. It won’t fit in my car. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to get it home yet.”

That’s one of the few things Dele Ali has not worked out yet. Luckily for Spurs, he has sorted most of the other stuff. Most importantly, of course, himself.


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