Dele Alli bravely opens up about being sexually abused as a child

In a testament to his courage and will to help others, Dele Alli has revealed that he was sexually abused at just six years of age and started selling drugs by eight.

With remarkable skills, the footballer has established himself as one of the most talented players in the country. And in a harrowing revelation, he showcased exactly why the media and the public shouldn’t voice negative opinions. While they were saying horrid things, the sportsman was still dealing with the trauma of what happened in his past.

But despite the nastiness that Alli’s had to cope with over the years, he’s managed to make it through, proving his incredible mental strength, while standing as an inspiration to anyone who’s been through similar issues.

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Speaking candidly to Gary Neville on The Overlap podcast, the 27-year-old fought back tears as he gave an insight into his life.

As an adult, suffering from the trauma of his childhood, he developed an addiction to sleeping tablets and alcohol, which he used to ‘escape from reality’.

Despite making a brilliant start to his career, he suffered from mental health issues, travelling to a facility in The USA to try and seek help. Luckily, the place worked wonders. He went from wanting to retire to developing coping mechanisms to deal with the saddening things that have happened to him.

Alas, regardless of his progress, the media attempted to expose his rehabilitation. But exhibiting his admirable mindset, Alli decided to beat them to it and chose to talk about it himself.


Dele Alli speaks to Gary Neville about his childhood

The Everton playmaker said: “It’s not something I have spoken about that much, but there were a few incidents that give you an understanding. At six, I was molested by my mum’s friend, who spent a lot of time at my house; my mum was an alcoholic. That happened at six. I was sent to Africa to learn discipline, and then I was sent back. At seven, I started smoking, at eight, I started dealing drugs. An older person told me that they wouldn’t stop a kid on a bike, so I rode around with my football, and then underneath, I’d have the drugs – that was eight.

“11, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate, a man. 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’d done for me. If God created people, it was them.”

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The Hickford family adopted Alli and changed his life forever. But while they did everything they could for him, he still struggled with his mental scars.

His addiction to sleeping tablets lasted for several years. And while originally being prescribed them by a doctor, he eventually started sourcing them from “outside the game.”

Proving their role as genuine friends, Tottenham teammates Eric Dier and Harry Kane did their utmost to help him. But sadly, they were unable to do so.

Alli admitted: “I didn’t care, I wouldn’t accept help from anyone. I was so numb to everyone. I’m proud I’m through it now.”

Dele Alli has survived abuse and addiction

He continued: “I got addicted to sleeping tablets, and it’s probably a problem that not only I have. I think it’s something that’s going around more than people realise in football. With our schedule, you have a game; you have to be up early in the morning to train, you have all the adrenaline and stuff. So sometimes, to take a sleeping tablet and be ready for the next day is fine. But when your dopamine system and you’re as broken as I am, it can obviously have the reverse effect, because it does work for the problems you want to deal with, and that is the problem – it works until it doesn’t. I definitely abused them.”

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The 2x PFA Young Player of the Year winner added: “I was never really dealing with the problem which was growing and the traumas I had, the feelings I was holding on to; I tried to deal with it all by myself. My adopted family, my brother, there were times they would take me aside crying, asking me to just speak to them about what I was feeling, but I couldn’t do it. I lost myself for a few years; I was just turning everyone away, when I had the family that saved my life crying, asking me to tell them what’s wrong, and I just didn’t want to do it.”

Dele Alli admits what went wrong at Tottenham

After comments made against his adoptive parents left him feeling “betrayed and hurt”, Alli decided to end his relationship with his birth parents.

He also attributes his decline in form to the departure of Mauricio Pochettino from Spurs in 2019.

“It was tough for me when he left. It was so hard for me to let anyone else in at that point. Honestly, it felt fake speaking to other managers and it was probably down to me and my ego. I felt like they didn’t want to get to know me on a personal level. It was then tough for me to commit and give everything.”

“Probably the saddest moment for me was when [José] Mourinho was manager, and he’d stopped playing me. I remember I was in a bad place, and I just looked in the mirror asking if I could retire now at 24 doing the thing I love. That felt heartbreaking for me. To even have that thought; that hurt me a lot and was another thing I had to carry.”

What does the future hold for Dele Alli?

The midfielder currently has a year left on his contract with ‘The Toffees’, and we’re unsure what Sean Dyche’s plans are for him next season. As part of Alli’s deal, Everton must pay Spurs a fee of £10m if he makes 20 appearances. He’s currently on 13.

The athlete is in the process of recovering from an injury sustained during his loan spell at Besiktas.

Alli explained: “When I came back from Turkey, I found out that I need an operation, and I was in a bad place mentally. I decided to go to a modern-day rehab facility for mental health. They deal with addiction, mental health and trauma because it was something that I felt like it was time for. I think with things like that; other people can’t tell you to go there. I think you have to know, and you have to make the decision yourself. Otherwise, it’s not going to work.”

He concluded: “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. So I went there for six weeks, and Everton were amazing about it. They supported me 100%, and I’ll be grateful to them forever.”

While we don’t know exactly what’s in store for Alli next, what we do know, is that he can do it with his head held high.

The NSPCC offers support to children on 0800 1111, and adults concerned about a child on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adult survivors on 0808 801 0331.

Featured Image Credit: Getty