Everton and former Three Lions midfielder Dele Alli has disclosed his ordeals as a child while growing up. In a deluxe interview with Gary Nevile during ‘The Overlap’ YouTube show, Alli recounted that he had to become addicted to sleeping medication as a way to help him to deal with his childhood concussion. Dele Alli who urges others with difficult situations to try to speak out, said he hopes to inspire others by discussing his traumas.
“I think with things like that, you can’t be told to go there, I think you have to know. You have to make the decision yourself; otherwise it’s not going to work. To be honest, I was caught in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm,” Alli said.
Alli said while smiling at training, showing people he was happy, but deep inside of him, he was losing it.
“I was waking up every day, and I was winning the fight, 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 it because when I got injured, and they told me I needed surgery, I could feel the feelings I had when the cycle begins, and I didn’t want it to happen any more.”
“I want to help other people to know that they’re not alone in the feelings they’ve got and that you can talk to people; it doesn’t make you weak to get help, to be vulnerable. There’s a lot of strength in that. So, to come out and to share my story, I’m happy to do it,” he said.
“I mean [my troubles have] been going on for a long time, I think, without me realizing it — the things I was doing to numb the feelings I had,” he said.
“I mean, I didn’t realize I was doing it for that purpose, whether it be drinking or whatever. The things a lot of people do—but if you abuse it and use it in the wrong way, and you’re not actually doing it for the pleasure, you’re doing it to try and chase something or hide from something, it can obviously damage you a lot.”
“It’s hard to pinpoint one exact moment [when I started to feel that things weren’t right]. Probably the saddest moment for me was when [José] Mourinho was manager, I think I was 24. I remember there was one session, like, one morning I woke up, and I had to go to training—this is when he’d stopped playing me—and I was in a bad place.
“I remember just looking in the mirror—I mean it sounds dramatic, but I was literally staring in the mirror—and I was asking if I could retire now, at 24, doing the thing I love. For me, that was heart-breaking to even have had that thought at 24, to want to retire. That hurt me a lot, that was another thing that I had to carry.”
“I’m proud of who I am today and don’t blame anyone; I thank a lot of people,” Alli added. “I thank a lot of people for the tough times they created for me because I think that made me a tougher person because that made me braver, made me stronger, and it allowed me to overcome challenges that, if they were just sprung on me, maybe I wouldn’t be able to deal with. But, I have a lot of people to thank because they did help give me the hunger and the passion to keep going and keep fighting and prove them wrong.
“I think the main thing for me is I want to prove myself right because I know how good I can be as a player and as a person, and it’s important for me that this battle against myself, I will win, and I do prove myself I was right about all these things.”
Alli has received messages of support from former teammates.
Alli returned to Everton this summer after spending last season on loan at Turkish side Besiktas, where he made 15 appearances in all competitions.