EPL: Dele Alli recounts sexual abuse trauma and time in rehab

27-year-old Everton player, Dele Alli has revealed that he was sexually abused at the age of six and also spent six weeks in rehab this summer.

In an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, Dele Alli recalled how the childhood trauma he suffered contributed to the problems he has encountered in recent years, pushing him to rehab.

Dele Alli recounts sexual abuse trauma and time in rehab
Dele Alli at a match for England against Croatia. Source: Getty

In a candid and emotional interview, the 27-year-old also revealed he had an addiction to sleeping tablets and disclosed how he spent six weeks in rehab in the USA this summer.

Alli said during the interview;

“At six I was molested by my mum’s friend, who was at the house a lot. My mum was an alcoholic.

“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.”

Dele Alli recounts sexual abuse trauma and time in rehab
Dele Alli playing for Everton. Source: Getty

On receiving treatment for addiction this summer, Alli said;

“I got addicted to sleeping tablets and it’s probably not a problem only I have. I think it’s something that’s going around more than people realise in football.

“Now is probably the right time to tell people. It’s tough to talk about it as it’s quite recent and something I’ve hid for a long time and I’m scared to talk about. When I came back from Turkey, I came back and found out I needed an operation.

“I was in a bad place mentally. I decided to go to a modern rehab facility that deals with addiction and mental health and trauma. I felt it was time for me. You can’t be told to go there, you have to make the decision yourself.

“I was in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm. I was waking up every day, winning the fight going into training every day smiling – willing to show I was happy. Inside I was losing the battle and it was time to change. When I was told I needed surgery I could feel the feelings I had when the cycle began.

“Everton were amazing and supported me. I will be grateful to them forever. For them to be so honest and understanding I couldn’t ask for anything more during a time I was making the biggest decision of my life – doing something I was scared to do. I’m happy I’ve done it.”

Commenting further on his addiction issues, Alli added;

“Before when I’d stop, I’d still sometimes have the urge, but I’d maintain [being] sober for a period of time and then there’d always be a time where something would happen, I’d get the feelings back and I’d want to escape. I was taking a lot – I don’t want to talk about numbers, but it was definitely way too much.

Dele Alli recounts sexual abuse trauma and time in rehab
Dele Alli play for Besiktas in Super Lig. Source: Getty

“And there were some scary moments. The teams give you them for a reason – to sleep. I wasn’t taking them to sleep, I’d take them throughout the day, sometimes from 11am if I had the day off. I would never take them if I was playing, but I’d start early if I had the day off, just to escape from the reality.

“It started with a doctor giving them to me and then it turned into more than that. When you want something, you’ll find a way. At the start, it was one to sleep – and, for most people, that’s fine. You can handle that, that’s all you need. But, for me, it was fixing something else that I didn’t know I could fix.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love football. It’s saved my life. I owe everything to football. But it’s not just as easy as everyone thinks it is. Yes, you have money and you can do a lot of things you wouldn’t be able to do without it, but mentally, until you’re in it, I don’t think people will ever understand what it can do to you.

“Probably the saddest moment for me was when Jose Mourinho was [Tottenham] manager. I was 24. I remember there was one session – this is when he’d stopped playing me – I was in a bad place and I remember just looking in the mirror. It sounds dramatic, but I was literally staring in the mirror and asking if I could retire now, at 24, doing the thing I love.

“For me, that was heart-breaking to even have had that thought. That hurt me and was another thing I had to carry.”

Alli was one of English football’s biggest talents, a member of the England team that reached the World Cup semifinals in 2018 after a period when he was a star of Mauricio Pochettino’s young Tottenham side that nearly won the Premier League.

However, the attacking midfielder’s career has derailed in recent years. After winning the last of his 37 England caps in 2019, Alli fell out of favour at Tottenham which prompted a transfer to Everton, where he has since struggled to make an impact, spending last season on loan at Besiktas

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