English footballer Dele Alli has bared his soul in a shocking and revealing interview with Gary Neville, discussing his tumultuous upbringing and battles with addiction. The Everton midfielder and former England international courageously disclosed that he suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of one of his mother’s friends and endured a harrowing incident where he was hung off a bridge by a local individual. Opening up on Neville’s YouTube channel “The Overlap,” Alli shared these deeply personal experiences that he had seldom discussed before.
Alli first rose to prominence as one of Tottenham’s key players during their remarkable Premier League title charge in the 2015-16 season. He then became a shining star for England, playing a pivotal role in their memorable run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. However, his career trajectory took a downturn in 2019 under the management of Jose Mourinho at Tottenham. Struggling to regain his footing, he faced further challenges upon joining Everton in February 2022. An unsuccessful loan spell with Besiktas in Turkey followed, and he sought solace in a six-week stint at a rehab clinic in the United States, completing his treatment in June.
Throughout his football journey, Alli has grappled with the lasting impact of his troubled upbringing. He candidly shared that he began dealing drugs at the tender age of eight, being exploited by criminal gangs who relied on the authorities’ reluctance to suspect or search a child. Smoking at seven and engaging in drug dealing at eight, Alli recounted how he concealed drugs underneath his football while riding his bike, as he had been advised that children on bicycles were less likely to be stopped. At eleven, he endured the traumatizing ordeal of being hung off a bridge by a man from his local community.
Alli’s biological mother, who battled alcoholism, led him to live with his father in Africa for a period. However, he intentionally misbehaved to be sent back to England. After a year, his mother made the difficult decision to put him up for adoption. Alli expressed immense gratitude for his adoptive family, describing them as extraordinary individuals who have made a profound impact on his life. Adjusting to living with them was initially challenging, as he harbored fears of being discarded again. Nonetheless, he strived to be the best version of himself and remained with his adoptive family from the age of twelve. At sixteen, he made his breakthrough in professional football, earning a place in the first team.
Alli’s interview with Neville offered a rare glimpse into the struggles he has confronted and the strength he has exhibited throughout his life. By sharing his story, he aspires to shed light on the enduring effects of childhood trauma and inspire others who may be wrestling with similar battles.