Dele Alli interview: Everton footballer reveals he was sexually abused aged six

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Dele Alli has opened up about addiction and childhood trauma in a interview with Gary Neville

Everton midfielder Dele Alli has revealed that he was sexually abused when he was six years old.

The Premier League footballer opened up about his childhood trauma in an emotional interview with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville on his YouTube channel The Overlap.

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The two time PFA Young Player of the Year winner also admitted he was addicted to sleeping tablets and had previously turned to excessive drinking.

Alli’s interview comes after a loan spell in Turkey with Besiktas last season and the former England international is now preparing for his first full campaign under manager Sean Dyche.

Neville described the conversation as the “most emotional, difficult yet inspirational conversation” of his life. But what did Dele Alli say during his interview on The Overlap?

Here is a summary of all the key points.

What did Dele Alli discuss during his interview with Gary Neville?

Passion for football

Dele Alli left Tottenham for Everton in January 2022. (Getty Images)Dele Alli left Tottenham for Everton in January 2022. (Getty Images)
Dele Alli left Tottenham for Everton in January 2022. (Getty Images)

Dele Alli enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence at MK Dons and Tottenham Hotspur in 2015, and became one of the best prospects in English football.

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The midfielder has recently experienced a dip in terms of his performances and fitness, which have seen him drop out of the England setup. He left Tottenham Hotspur for Everton in January 2022.

Alli admitted in the interview that this was the “first time in a long time” that he has been able to say he is okay. The 27-year-old said: “I think mentally I’m probably in the best place I’ve ever been, and I feel good. Obviously injured at the minute, but I’ve got that passion back for football - I’m doing really well.”

The England international also described it as the perfect time to discuss his life off the pitch. Alli said: “It’s tough to talk about because it’s quite recent and it’s something I’ve kind of hid for a long time - and I’m scared to talk about it, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Seeking help for his mental health

Dele Alli was loaned out to Besiktas last season but he endured a lengthy period on the sidelines with injury.

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During this period the midfielder also struggled with mental health problems and decided it was the right time to see a specialist.

Alli said: “I decided to go to a modern-day rehab facility for mental health. They deal with addiction, mental health, and trauma because it was something that I felt like it was time for.

“I think with things like that, you can’t be told to go there, I think you have to know, and you have to make the decision yourself, otherwise it’s not going to work and yeah, to be honest, I was caught in a bad cycle - you know. I was relying on things that were doing me harm and yeah, I think I was waking up every day and I was winning the fight, you know, going into training, smiling, showing that I was happy. But inside, I was definitely losing the battle and it was time for me to change.”

Alli went to a rehab facility for six weeks and praised Everton for supporting him during the difficult period. He added: “They supported me 100 per cent and I’ll be grateful to them forever.”

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What he has learned from rehab

Dele Alli spoke openly about the stigma surrounding rehab and admits it was an experience he found scary. But he claims it helped him learn a great deal about himself.

Alli said: “I think you know, a lot happened when I was younger that I could never understand, I could never figure out, and I was doing stupid things that I blame myself for, but really going there and learning about it, it was never really in my control.”

Opening up about his childhood

Dele Alli has opened up about his childhood for the first time.

He said: “At six, I was molested by my mum’s friend who was at the house a lot. My mum was an alcoholic. I was sent back to Africa to learn discipline, then I was sent back. Seven I started smoking. Eight I started dealing drugs, selling drugs.

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“An older person said they wouldn’t stop a kid so I’d ride around with my football and underneath I’d have the drugs.”

Alli was adopted at the age of 12 and says his new family was amazing in helping him. 

The midfielder said: “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.”

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