Dele Alli: I contemplated retiring from football at age 24

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English international, Dele Alli has revealed that he nearly retired from football at the age of 24 which was during his time at Tottenham under Jose Mourinho. The current Everton winger who gave an emotional interview to Garry Neville on The Overlap said he loves football but the mental toll it carries with it is unknown to outsiders.

In an interview in which the midfielder revealed his troubled childhood which included getting molested by a friend of his mother at age six and then going on to deal drugs and as well smoke while still under 10, he left nothing unsaid.

Speaking about the problems footballers have to deal with mentally, he said until someone gets into football, they won’t understand what mental toll it has on footballers.

“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.”

According to him, when he was not playing regularly under Jose Mourinho, he felt very bad about it and contemplated quitting.

“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,” he stated.

What Jose Mourinho told Dele Alli

Under Jose Mourinho, Dele Alli was completely a shadow of himself with the Portuguese growing disinterested in the Englishman’s intermittent sparkles. Mourinho was brutal with the midfielder during a meeting in his office. He told an uninterested Alli who sat facing him, “I always have to tell you what I think. Maybe inside you, you tell me to f*** off, but I have to tell you exactly what I think”.

He continued, “From the beginning, I had no doubts about your potential. I’ve seen you play incredible games and do incredible things, but I’ve always noticed that you have ups and downs.

“There’s a big difference from a player who stays consistent and a player who has moments and that’s what makes the difference between a top, top player and a player with great potential.

“It’s something that you don’t have to share with me, but it’s something for you to analyse yourself and realise why your career has been good… OK, from MK Dons to the national team. Bang! You get to the top and then…

“Why you have those ups and downs in your career, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s because of your lifestyle if in one period you’re a great professional and in another period you’re a party animal. I don’t know, I have no idea. Only you know.

“I’m 56 years old now and yesterday – yesterday! yesterday! I was 20. Time flies. And one day you’ll regret it, I think if you don’t achieve what you can achieve,” he said as reported by Marca.

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