Ex-Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli opens up about battling addiction and trauma, and his hopes to inspire others with his recovery story
|Dele Alli breaks down in tears during an epic interview with Gary Neville after his six weeks stay in rehab. (Photo credit: The Overlap)|
Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli has said he hopes to inspire others after revealing he recently spent six weeks at a rehab facility in the United States for addiction, mental health, and trauma treatment.
In an interview with Gary Neville’s YouTube channel (The Overlap) released on Thursday, the former three Lions midfielder said he had become addicted to sleep medication as a way of dealing with traumas from his childhood, which he said included being sexually abused at age six by a family friend.
Dele Alli returned to Everton this summer after spending last season on loan at Turkish side Besiktas, where he made 15 appearances in all competitions.
However, when told he needed another surgery, he said he could feel a negative cycle beginning again and decided to seek help.
"I think with things like that, you can't be told to go there; I think you have to know, and you have to make the decision yourself; otherwise, it's not going to work. To be honest, I was caught in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm," Alli said.
"I was waking up every day, and I was winning the fight, going into training, smiling, showing that I was happy. But inside, I was definitely losing the battle, and it was time for me to change it because when I got injured and they told me I needed surgery, I could feel the feelings I had when the cycle began, and I didn't want it to happen anymore."
"I want to help other people know that they're not alone in the feelings they've got and that they can talk to people; it doesn't make you weak to get help or to be vulnerable. There's a lot of strength in that. So, to come out and share my story, I'm happy to do it," he said.
"I mean, [my troubles] have been going on for a long time, I think, without me realizing it—the things I was doing to numb the feelings I had," he said.
"I mean, I didn't realize I was doing it for that purpose, whether it be drinking or whatever. The things a lot of people do—but if you abuse it and use it in the wrong way, and you're not actually doing it for pleasure, you're doing it to try and chase something or hide from something—it can obviously damage you a lot."
"I'm proud of who I am today and don't blame anyone; I thank a lot of people," Alli added. "I thank a lot of people for the tough times they created for me because I think that made me a tougher person because that made me braver, made me stronger, and allowed me to overcome challenges.
If they just sprung on me, maybe I wouldn't be able to deal with it. But I have a lot of people to thank because they did help give me the hunger and the passion to keep going, keep fighting, and prove them wrong.
"I think the main thing for me is that I want to prove myself right because I know how good I can be as a player and as a person, and it's important for me that I win this battle against myself and prove to myself that I was right about all these things."
Dele Alli left the facility three weeks ago, and he strongly believes he can still compete at the top.
The one-time wonder boy of English football is hoping to find help that would return him to full fitness, and with Mauricio Pochettino asking for him, a miracle could be on the way.