Dele Alli is one of the rising young stars of English football.
He broke into the England national team aged just 19, only two months after making his debut for Tottenham. The north London club had bought the midfielder from MK Dons in February 2015, but loaned him back to the League One side for the remainder of that season. After establishing himself with Spurs, he scored a sublime goal for England at Wembley in the win over France last year.
The youngster has emerged as a player to watch, enthral and brighten any game in which he plays. He has already been rewarded with a new contract and the plaudits won’t end there for the 19-year-old. This is a star in the making.
But for all of his skills, flair and knack for goals, there is an impetuous side to the youngster and this is what may catch him out. The staff at Spurs will need to guide and nurture this young talent very carefully because whilst it’s OK to have a “side” to your game, the nasty stuff will hold you back.
What’s meant by Alli having a ‘side?’ Well, the little kick in the midriff of Fiorentina’s Nenad Tomovic on last Thursday, for which he was booked, and the knee left in on Yohan Cabaye last month when the Crystal Palace midfielder went down in front of him.
In a world of petulant players that feel they shouldn’t be tackled because of who they are, Alli at least takes these situations in his stride when he ends up on the floor and accepts it as part of the game. Obviously, his time at MK Dons served him well in many respects.
The task of keeping Alli’s feet on the ground is as important as any Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino faces in terms of his personnel in the coming months. Pochettino said: “Dele is still very young and needs to learn a lot. He came from League One, He’s a little bit naughty.
“But it’s good. I like it. I was like that. I was naughty like him. I was sent off a lot in my career. In Espanyol in ten years 11 years, 13 or 14 red cards. It was a record.
“We need to show him that it’s better for him sometimes to be a little more calm. He played the whole second half with a yellow card. He’s clever. Like me.”
Dele has since tried to redeem himself by saying: “It was not deliberate. I would never do that. Football always gets a bit heated, but we shook hands and that’s fine.
“Do you need an aggressive streak to thrive? You could say that. A lot of the great players have that mentality. I want to be the best I can and if that’s what I need to do it, that’s what I do.”
A big future for Dele Alli is looming just ahead, but one that could be riddled with suspensions if he doesn’t check the wayward streak in him.