Dele Alli shared on Thursday that he has recently completed a rehabilitation program for his addiction to sleeping pills.
He had been struggling to cope with the emotional distress caused by experiencing sexual abuse during his childhood.
The midfielder, who was once considered one of the most promising talents in English football, opened up about his past involvement in drug dealing at the age of eight. However, his life took a positive turn when he was adopted by a new family at the age of twelve. Dele Alli discussed these experiences on Gary Neville’s podcast, “The Overlap.”
Alli rose to prominence during Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure at Tottenham and played a crucial role in England’s journey to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. However, his performance on the field has declined in recent years as he lost favor at Spurs and struggled to make an impact at Everton or during his loan spell at Besiktas last season. Nevertheless, he revealed that these difficulties stem from a series of childhood traumas that he attempted to suppress.
“At six I was molested by my mum’s friend, who was at the house a lot. My mum was an alcoholic,” said Alli.
“Then I was sent to Africa (to his father) to learn discipline and then I was sent back. (At) seven I started smoking, 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.”
“Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate, a man.”
“Twelve, I was adopted… I was adopted by an amazing family like I said, I couldn’t have asked for better people to do what they’d done for me. If God created people, it was them.”
Alli expressed his desire to assist others who have experienced similar abuse by sharing his story. He also mentioned that his six-week stay in rehab has reignited his determination to revive his football career.
“Going into rehab is definitely scary but I could never have imagined how much I would get from it and how much it would help me mentally,” he said.
“I was in a bad place. A lot happened when I was younger that I could never understand.”
Dele Alli also cautioned about the widespread risks of becoming addicted to sleeping pills in football, where players are frequently given tablets as a prescription before and after matches.
“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,” he said.
“To take a sleeping tablet and be ready for the next day is fine, but when you’re broken as I am, it can obviously have the reverse effect because it does work for the problems you want to deal with.”