Dele Alli Opens Up on Child Abuse, Addiction and Rehab: Everton Salute His Bravery
Everton have ‘saluted the bravery’ of Deli Alli following his tell-all interview with Gary Neville. The former Tottenham midfielder has seen his football career stall in recent seasons but has revealed the reasons behind a mental health battle that saw him contemplate hanging up his boots at the age of 24. In an emotional interview, the England international fought back tears as he laid bare his difficult upbringing before he was adopted by the Hickford family – saying he was ‘molested’ at the age of six.
Speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap podcast, Alli said: ‘(Childhood) is something I haven’t really spoken about that much, to be honest. My mum was an alcoholic. I was sent to Africa (to stay with his father) to learn discipline, and then I was sent back. At seven, I started smoking, eight I started dealing drugs. Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate. Twelve, 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.’
After signing for Tottenham from MK Dons, Alli enjoyed a fine run of form that culminated in playing a key role in England’s progress to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018. But Alli was still battling in silence off the pitch – leading to a ‘scary’ addiction to sleeping pills and a reliance on alcohol. ‘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.’
Rehab and Recovery
Having left Spurs for Everton in 2022, Alli spent last season on loan at Besiktas but upon returning to England with an injury that required surgery he knew he needed help, checking into a clinic in the United States. ‘When I came back from Turkey, I came in and I found out that I needed an operation and I was in a bad place mentally and I decided to go to like a modern-day rehab facility for mental health,’ he said. Alli is still recovering from the injury from which he is still recovering but Everton hope he can continue his rehabilitation in privacy.
A statement from Everton read: ‘The Club has been supporting Dele in both his return to fitness and overcoming the personal challenges highlighted in his interview with The Overlap. Everyone at Everton respects and applauds Dele’s bravery to speak about the difficulties he has faced, as well as seek the help required. The physical and mental welfare of all our players is of paramount importance.
The Club takes very seriously its responsibility in protecting the confidentiality of players and staff. Dele will not be conducting any further interviews in relation to his rehabilitation, and we ask that his privacy is respected while he continues his recuperation from injury and receives the full care and support needed for his physical and mental wellbeing.’
Dele Alli has opened up about his difficult childhood, addiction to painkillers and subsequent rehab stint in an emotional interview with Gary Neville. Everton have saluted Alli’s bravery for speaking out about his struggles and are providing him with all the necessary support he needs for his physical and mental wellbeing. It is important that we continue to support those who are struggling with their mental health and ensure they receive the care they need.