Dele Alli breaks silence on his struggles with addiction
Former Tottenham midfielder, Dele Alli has come out to explain the struggles he went through while his career went down the slope.
The England International made this revelation in an emotional interview he had with the overlap which is being hosted by Gary Neville. Dele Alli also spoke about his time in a rehab facility and shared details from his traumatic childhood, including being molested as a child by his mother's friend.
I got addicted to sleeping tablets, it's a problem not only I have. It's going around more than people realise in football.
Now is probably the right time to tell people. It's tough to talk about it as it's quite recent and something I've hid for a long time and I'm scared to talk about. When I came back from Turkey (following a loan spell at Besiktas) I came back and found out I needed an operation. I was in a bad place mentally. I decided to go to a modern rehab facility that deals with addiction and mental health and trauma. I felt it was time for me. You can't be told to go there, you have to make the decision yourself. I was in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm. I was waking up every day, winning the fight going into training every day smiling - willing to show I was happy. Inside I was losing the battle and it was time to change. When I was told I needed surgery I could feel the feelings I had when the cycle began.
Alli also spoke about the support that Everton Football Club showed him during his trying time by ensuring he went into rehab.
So I went there for six weeks. Everton were amazing and supported I will be grateful to them forever. For them to be so honest and understanding I couldn't ask for anything more during a time I was making the biggest decision of my life - doing something I was scared to do. I'm happy I've done it. There is a stigma around it and it's something people don't want to do. Going into rehab is scary but I could never have imagined how much I would get from it. I was in a bad place. A lot happened to me when I was younger that I couldn't understand and I was doing stupid things that I blame myself for. Going there and learning about it, it was never really under my control. Understanding learning it has helped. I let go of some bad feelings I was holding which was slowing me down.
He also spoke about his relationship with Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino.
Mauricio Pochettino was the best manager and I couldn't have asked for a better manager at the time. I was in him and his team, you know, not just him. There was Jesus (Perez), Miguel (d'Agostino) and Tony (Jimenez). They are amazing people and they're so understanding, and it wasn't like a footballer and a manager relationship. It was deeper than that, I felt. He was just so understanding of the decisions I was making, and he was guiding – like, he cared about me as a person before the football, which is what I needed at that time. And I think that's important for young players. When you go somewhere it can be quite scary, I think. And I never had that fear of, you know, trying to prove myself in that sense, because I felt like he was giving me the platform to express myself the best I could and to be comfortable. I mean, players always used to say, 'I want to be like that' [fearless]. I wasn't fearless. I was just brave. But I think being brave, you feel the fear still, but you still do it. And I think that's something that he allowed me to do. So yeah, I think [Pochettino] helped a lot in that period of my career, which is why it was tough for me when he left. Because, you know, then you [get] new managers, and it was hard for me to let anyone in at that point and to be open. And I felt like everything was just so fake.
Alli struggled to find his form when Mourinho was appointed as manager of Tottenham. However, he said he is just focused on finding his feet at Everton under Sean Dyche when the 2023/24 season starts.
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