“You mention Bryan Robson: that’s the player I’d like to think he could become” were the words used by England manager Roy Hodgson before his side’s emphatic 3-2 win over Germany last weekend.
Who was he talking about? Dele Alli of course, the youngster that has taken both the Premier League and world by storm in his debut season for Tottenham Hotspur.
He helped England to a famous 3-2 victory over Germany last weekend and his displays have been part of Spurs’ rise to second in the league, with the title still in sight.
His rapid development has been extraordinary. He has gone from playing in front of 12,000 at MK Dons to the bookmakers’ favourite for this year’s PFA Young Player of the Year award. He’s gone from a holding midfielder to being able to play wide, or in a more attacking berth, which has led some to dispute where his best position actually is. Versatility is fantastic at such a young age.
He could perhaps be that box-to-box midfielder England have missed for years, but it’s unquestionable that he has all-round ability. He’s got good vision and can score goals too, an extremely desirable asset for a midfielder in this day and age. He’s only 19, too.
For Spurs, Champions League qualification looks on the cards and that is a major plus point when the inevitable transfer rumours begin in the summer. Make no mistake about it, Europe’s big guns will be on the prowl.
Four Spurs players made the cut for the England game against Germany, and with the quartet performing so strongly, it seems like the ideal environment for Alli to continue nurturing his game. It’s nothing but an advantage for England if they can carry on playing so well in the league – the form will surely translate to the national team.
People must remember that Alli is only a teenager and that he’s only been in the ‘big-time’ for one season. He needs to continue his development in as calm a way as possible and in the future, England can turn him into the big player that many expect him to be.
He has another four of five years of growing physically and mentally as a player, but he needs to mature quickly. Being thrown onto football’s biggest stage at such an early stage in your career can be either extremely positive or very destructive. There are many players that get to Alli’s stage and end up throwing it away because they believe in their own hype.
Alli needs to be a footballer that realises his potential and genuine quality, but also understands that hard work and what happens on the pitch will be what takes him forward.
Both Spurs and England have a long way to go with the youngster. But it’s extremely clear that he can be an asset to both in years to come.
Keep your head down Dele, and good things will happen.