Dele Alli, the former Tottenham Hotspur starlet, recently opened up about his struggles as a footballer and his severed relationship with his biological father. In an interview with Gary Neville on “The Overlap,” Alli discussed his hardships, including the trauma he endured as a child and his relationship with his Nigerian father.
Born in England to a Nigerian father and an English mother, Alli revealed that he had difficult relationships with both of his parents growing up due to a lack of boundaries. He recalled engaging in risky behaviors at a young age, such as smoking at seven and doing drugs at eight. As a result, his mother sent him to Nigeria in an attempt to instill discipline. However, the cultural change proved too overwhelming for Alli, and he returned to England after just six months.
In 2016, at the age of 21, Alli changed his jersey name from Alli to Dele, explaining that he had no connection to the former name. Reflecting on his upbringing, he said, “I had no rules. I didn’t grow up with any rules. My mum drank a lot, and I understand her better now because of what she was going through. My blood dad lived in Africa, and I got sent to him to stay there for a year, and it was horrible. I didn’t want to be there at all. It was a big culture change, and I didn’t want to be there, and after six months, I got sent back, and I don’t speak to him again.”
Alli also shared his reasons for not wanting a relationship with his biological father. He explained that his father had gone missing for a while and only returned when Alli began playing for England. At the age of 18, his birth parents went to the press, accusing his adopted family of taking advantage of him and expressing their desire to go through his contracts. Feeling betrayed by this action, Alli decided to cut off contact with his mother and expressed his disinterest in maintaining a relationship with his father.
Earlier in his career, Alli had the opportunity to play for Nigeria, as suggested by former footballer John Fashanu. However, he ultimately chose to represent England. Currently, Alli is under contract with Everton until the end of the 2023/2024 season.
Alli’s candid revelations shed light on the struggles he has faced as a footballer and the complex dynamics within his family. By openly discussing these challenges, he hopes to inspire others who may be going through similar experiences.