Dele Alli

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Dele Alli
MK Dons Vs Barnsley (16176325970, cropped).jpg
Alli playing for Milton Keynes Dons in 2015
Personal information
Full name Bamidele Jermaine Alli[1]
Date of birth (1996-04-11) 11 April 1996 (age 21)[1]
Place of birth Milton Keynes, England
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Tottenham Hotspur
Number 20
Youth career
0000–2007 City Colts[3]
2007–2011 Milton Keynes Dons
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2011–2015 Milton Keynes Dons 62 (18)
2015– Tottenham Hotspur 70 (28)
2015 Milton Keynes Dons (loan) 12 (4)
National team
2012–2013 England U17 9 (0)
2014 England U18 2 (0)
2014 England U19 4 (0)
2015– England U21 2 (0)
2015– England 19 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13:05, 18 June 2017 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13:05, 18 June 2017 (UTC)

Bamidele Jermaine "Dele" Alli (born 11 April 1996) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the England national team.

Born and raised in Milton Keynes, he joined the youth system at Milton Keynes Dons aged 11 and broke into the first team five years later, during the 2012–13 season. Over the next two-and-a-half years he made 88 official appearances for the team, scoring 24 goals. He signed for Tottenham Hotspur in February 2015 for an initial fee of £5 million, being loaned back to the Dons for the remainder of the season. In his first full campaign at White Hart Lane, Alli was voted the PFA Young Player of the Year, and won again the second year. In January 2016 he was ranked 8th in the Gazzetta dello Sport list of the 50 best U20 footballers and in October of the same year he was ranked as the best U21 talent in world football by FourFourTwo.[4][5]

Alli played for the England U17, U18 and U19 teams. He made his senior debut in 2015 and was selected for UEFA Euro 2016.

Club career[edit]

Milton Keynes Dons[edit]

Early career[edit]

Alli joined the youth system at Milton Keynes Dons when he was 11 years old.[3] He made his debut for the first team as a sixteen-year-old on 2 November 2012, coming on as a 64th-minute substitute for Jay O'Shea in a 0–0 draw with Southern Football League club Cambridge City in the FA Cup first round at Milton Road.[6] His first touch in professional football was a back-heeled pass.[3] His first goal came in the replay against Cambridge eleven days later, where he scored in a 6–1 win at Stadium mk on his first start.[7] He made his league debut in the 2–3 defeat to Coventry City at home on 29 December, where he played 71 minutes before being replaced by Zeli Ismail.[8] His only other league appearance in the 2012–13 Football League One season, came as a second-half substitute for Patrick Bamford in the last game of the season, a 2–0 win over Stevenage at Broadhall Way.[9]

2013–14 season[edit]

The 2013–14 season saw Alli break into the MK Dons first team on a regular basis. He started the Dons' first league game of the season, a 0–0 draw away at Shrewsbury Town.[10] In his first Football League Trophy appearance, Alli scored to help MK Dons beat Northampton Town 2–0 and thus progress to the second round of the tournament.[11] On 28 September, Alli scored his first professional league goal in the 4–1 thrashing of Stevenage.[12] After being in and out of the first team picture in late 2013 due to injury setbacks, Alli would go on and establish himself as a first-choice player in 2014. He scored the opening goal in the 3–2 win over Shrewsbury Town at Stadium mk on 11 January, with a header from Stephen Gleeson's pinpoint pass.[13] On 11 March, against Notts County at Meadow Lane, aged 17 years and 11 months old, Alli scored a hat-trick to guide the 'Dons to a 3–1 victory.[14] His next and final goal of the 2013–14 season, came on 5 April against Coventry City at the Sixfields Stadium; Alli struck a thunderous volley from 25 yards out as MK Dons defeated Coventry, 2–1.[15] He made 37 appearances in all competitions during the 2013–14 season, scoring 7 times, with 33 appearances and 6 goals in the league.

2014–15 season[edit]

Alli playing for Milton Keynes Dons in 2015

With the departure of Gleeson to Birmingham City[16] in June 2014, Alli became the first-choice central midfield partner to Darren Potter. He started the season brightly, playing the first league game of the season as the Dons overcame a 2–0 deficit to defeat Gillingham, 4–2.[17] He then helped the team to a 3–1 win over arch-enemies, AFC Wimbledon, in the League Cup first round.[18] His first goal of the 2014–15 season came in the first away league game, a 3–2 defeat to Peterborough United, where he scored a tap-in from Will Grigg's deflected shot.[19]

On 26 August, Alli played the full 90 minutes in the League Cup second round as MK Dons recorded a historic 4–0 win over Manchester United.[20] It was reported that numerous scouts from top clubs across Europe attended the game to watch him play, including representatives from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.[3][21] In the game after the 4–0 League Cup win over Manchester United, Alli continued his rich vein of form with a goal curled in from the edge of the box in a 2–0 win over Crawley Town.[22] After the international break, Alli played 77 minutes in the 5–3 win against Barnsley, assisting the Dons second goal and scoring their third goal himself with a chip over the Barnsley goalkeeper.[23]

On 18 September, Alli extended his contract with MK Dons until June 2017.[24] Two days later, in a game against Crewe Alexandra, he scored a hat-trick and achieved one assist in what turned out to be a 6–1 victory for the Dons. It was the second hat-trick of his career and the first he achieved at home, which also led to him winning the Man of the Match award.[25]

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

Alli playing for Tottenham Hotspur in 2016

On 2 February 2015, Alli signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the last hours of the mid-season transfer window on a five-and-a-half-year deal for an initial fee of £5 million.[26]

Milton Keynes Dons (loan)[edit]

Following his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, Alli was immediately loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of the 2014–15 season.[26] On 19 April, he was chosen as the Young Player of the Year at the Football League Awards.[27] The season ended on 3 May with Milton Keynes Dons promoted automatically to the Championship as runners-up behind Bristol City, after a 5–1 home win over relegated Yeovil Town.[28]

2015–16 season[edit]

On 8 August 2015, Alli made his Tottenham debut against Manchester United in the Premier League as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat away at Old Trafford, playing the last 13 minutes in place of Eric Dier.[29] Two weeks later, he scored his first goal for the club after coming on for Christian Eriksen in the 1–1 draw against Leicester City.[30]

On 13 September, Alli made his first start for Tottenham in a 1–0 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.[31] On 2 November, he started and scored the second goal in an eventual 3–1 win over Aston Villa.[32] Six days later he started his first North London Derby alongside fellow England youngster Dier in central midfield, and was awarded Man of the Match in the 1–1 draw between rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.[33] On 5 December 2015, he scored his third goal for Tottenham in the 2015–16 campaign in a 1–1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.[34]

Following an impressive start to his Premier League career scoring five goals and making three assists in his first 18 league matches, he was rewarded with a new long-term contract until 2021 on 12 January.[35] Eleven days later he scored a 25-yard volley in a 3–1 win at Crystal Palace; BBC Sport pundit and former Spurs player Garth Crooks wrote "Well, I've seen some glorious goals scored in my time watching football matches but I doubt whether I will see a goal scored with such individual flair, and by a 19-year-old, as Dele Alli's goal at Selhurst Park – it was sheer class".[36] On 13 April, he was named on the six-man shortlist for 2015–16's PFA Young Player of the Year.[37]

On 18 April 2016, he scored his first brace for Tottenham in a 0–4 away win at Stoke City,[38] reaching ten goals in his debut Premier League season.[39] He was voted the season's PFA Young Player of the Year.[40] On 28 April, Alli was banned by the Football Association for three matches, effectively ending his Premier League season, for an off-the-ball incident against West Bromwich Albion in which he punched midfielder Claudio Yacob in the stomach. He later apologised for the incident on Twitter, stating, "Gutted that my season is over. Shouldn't have reacted like I did. Will learn from this and come back stronger."[41]

2016–17 season[edit]

Ahead of the season, Alli changed his kit name to his given name, saying that he had "no connection" to his legal surname due to his separation from his mother.[42]

His first goal of the season came in a 4–0 win against Stoke City on 10 September 2016.[43] Four days later, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 1–2 loss to AS Monaco at Wembley Stadium.[citation needed] His first Champions League goal came against CSKA Moskva at the same stadium on 7 December 2016.[citation needed]

Between 18 December 2016 and 21 January 2017, Alli scored eight goals in six league matches, earning the award of Premier League Player of the Month award for January 2017. This included three consecutive braces against Southampton, Watford and Chelsea.[44]

On 23 February 2017, Alli received his first red card for a dangerous tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Tottenham's UEFA Europa League draw with K.A.A. Gent which saw Spurs eliminated at the Round of 32 stage of the competition.[45]

On 20 April 2017, Alli was again named in the PFA Team of the Year, having been included in the League One selection for 2015 and Premier League selection in 2016.[46] On 23 April, he was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year,[47] the day after scoring in Tottenham's 4–2 FA Cup semi-final loss to rivals Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.[48]

International career[edit]

Alli playing for England in 2015

Alli has made several appearances at U17 and U18 levels for England.[49] On 27 August 2014, Alli was called up to the England U19 squad following an impressive start to the campaign.[50] He made his debut for England U19 in the 1–1 draw against Germany U19. In the game, Alli assisted the opening goal feeding a through ball to Bradley Fewster who gave England a 1–0 lead.[51]

In February 2015, it was reported that John Fashanu would try to convince Alli to play for Nigeria.[52] However, on 1 October of that year, he was included in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the final UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Estonia and Lithuania.[53] He made his debut against the former on 9 October, coming on as a late substitute for Ross Barkley in a 2–0 win.[54]

On 17 November 2015, Alli made his first start for the England senior team, scoring the opening goal from a long range shot to beat Spurs teammate, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in a 2–0 win against France at Wembley Stadium.[55] He was again named in the starting line-up for England's friendly match against world champions Germany on 26 March 2016. Alli was named man of the match by the BBC as England recovered from 0–2 down to win 3–2 at the Berlin Olympiastadion.[56]

Personal life[edit]

Alli was born and raised in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, to a Yoruba Nigerian father Kenny[57] and English mother Denise.[58] Kenny moved to the United States a week after Alli's birth.[59] Alli went to Stantonbury Campus[60] and The Radcliffe School in Wolverton.[61]

Alli was initially brought up by his mother, who suffered from alcohol problems.[59] At the age of 13, he moved into the family home of Alan and Sally Hickford, parents of another young footballer with MK Dons and whom he refers to as his "adoptive parents" although he was never legally adopted by them.[59][62] In the summer of 2016, Alli elected to stop wearing the name "Alli" on his match shirts because he felt no connection with the Alli family name.[42]

Alli was a Liverpool fan growing up with Steven Gerrard his childhood idol,[3] and saw Gerrard and Frank Lampard as good role models on how they act as professionals.[60]

Style of play[edit]

Alli is widely considered one of the best young midfielders of his generation,[63][64][65] and has won PFA Young Player of the Year twice in a row while only 21.[66] He is also considered an all-round player who can play effectively as a second-striker.[67] According to Mauricio Pochettino: "In the box, he looks like a striker, and outside the box, he plays like a midfielder." Rafael van der Vaart described Alli as "fast, fluid and has a great skill set",[68] while Frank Lampard praised Alli's intelligence in his ability "to get into the box without being marked".[69]

Alli watches the best players to try to learn from their style of play, including Lionel Messi, Xabi Alonso, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi as well as his idol Steven Gerrard.[60] His teammate Harry Winks described Alli as being like Fernandinho, but he described his own playing style as a cross between Gerrard and Yaya Touré.[70]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 21 May 2017
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Milton Keynes Dons 2011–12[71] League One 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2012–13[72] League One 2 0 5 1 0 0 0 0 7 1
2013–14[73] League One 33 6 1 0 2 0 1[a] 1 37 7
2014–15[74] League One 39 16 1 0 4 0 0 0 44 16
Total 74 22 7 1 6 0 1 1 88 24
Tottenham Hotspur 2015–16[75] Premier League 33 10 3 0 1 0 9[b] 0 46 10
2016–17[76] Premier League 37 18 5 3 0 0 8[c] 1 50 22
Total 70 28 8 3 1 0 17 1 96 32
Career total 144 50 15 4 7 0 18 2 184 56
  1. ^ Appearance in Football League Trophy
  2. ^ Appearances in UEFA Europa League
  3. ^ Six appearances in UEFA Champions League, two in UEFA Europa League

International[edit]

As of match played 13 June 2017[77]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
England 2015 4 1
2016 11 1
2017 4 0
Total 19 2

International goals[edit]

As of match played 13 June 2017. England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Alli goal.[77]
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref
1 17 November 2015 Wembley Stadium, London, England 4  France 1–0 2–0 Friendly [78]
2 8 October 2016 Wembley Stadium, London, England 14  Malta 2–0 2–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification [79]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Milton Keynes Dons

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]