In what comes as a shocker to English football, former Tottenham Hotspur player Dele Alli has revealed in an interview that he spent six weeks in rehab in the United States in a bid to tackle mental-health issues that stemmed from a traumatic childhood and also, got addicted to sleeping pills.
After a bright start to his career at MK Dons, Alli was snapped up by then Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino wherein he nearly landed the title for the North London side.
In an interview with former England footballer Gary Neville on The Overlap, Alli spoke as to how he was sexually abused at the age of six.
"There were a few incidents that can give you a brief understanding," 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 to Africa to learn discipline. Then I was sent back. Seven, I started smoking. Eight I started dealing drugs, selling drugs. An older person told me they wouldn't stop a kid so I'd ride around with my football and then underneath I'd have the drugs.
"Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate. At 12, I was adopted. And from then, I was adopted by an amazing family, 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."
Watch the full interview here:
He returned from rehab three weeks ago.
“I was caught in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm,” he said.
“I was waking up every day and 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.
“I couldn't,” he added of rehab, “have expected it to go the way it did. Before you hear about it, it has this whole stigma around it. It's something people don't want to do, go into rehab. It definitely sounds scary.
"I could never have imagined how much I would get from it and how much it would help me mentally, because I was in a bad place. A lot happened when I was younger that I could never understand."
Harry Kane, the England captain and a former teammate of Alli's at Tottenham, tweeted that he was proud of Alli “for speaking out and sharing his experience to try and help others” while Everton said the club “respects and applauds Dele's bravery to speak about the difficulties he has faced, as well as seek the help required.”
Alli thrived at Tottenham under Pochettino from 2015-19, saying the Argentine coach “cared about me as a person before the football,” but never had as good a relationship with other managers.
Alli said at the age of 24, when Jose Mourinho was Tottenham's manager, he returned to a “bad place.”
“One morning I woke up," he said, "and I had to go to training — this is when he'd stopped playing me — I was in a bad place and I remember just looking in the mirror … and was asking if I can retire now.
"At 24, doing the thing I love, for me that was heartbreaking.”