Tottenham Hotspur and England star Dele Alli has revealed how football saved him from heading down the wrong path and into a potential gang life.
“I got into the wrong crowd from an early age. Football was a great distraction from the path I was heading down,” Alli told ES Magazine.
“I’m very lucky to have met people who helped through the hardest of times and have helped me grow into the person I am today,” he added.
“There’s a lot that people don’t know about me, but a lot of people seem to think they know about me. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. I get to have football as a job. But you have to fight for things in life.”
Alli, who will shortly be beginning his first World Cup with England, is not the only player to explain in recent months how football saved them. Brighton forward Jurgen Locadia recalled a similar experience, suggesting that without football he might have become a criminal instead.
It is hard to believe that Alli, who only turned 22 years of age in April, has only just completed his third season with Tottenham. He has already played to 150 games for the club in all competitions, and will soon net his 50th goal in Spurs colours.
A deep role in Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield saw his goal tally fall in 2017/18, but he still managed double figures. Such consistency of output for a player so young is remarkable.
At international level, his goal return is less impressive. Alli hasn’t found the net for his country for nearly two whole years when he scored in a World Cup qualifier against Malta in late 2016. Fans will be hoping that soon changes this summer in Russia..