In a recent interview with Gary Neville on ‘The Overlap', Dele Alli opened up about the challenges he faced during his childhood that have impacted his professional career.
His candid revelations about his difficult upbringing, including sexual abuse, drug dealing, and his mother's alleged alcoholism, left many shocked and sympathetic.
However, the response from Alli's family has been mixed, with conflicting accounts and emotional turmoil surfacing.
Dele Alli's troubled childhood: A candid interview
In the interview, Alli shared his experiences of childhood trauma, including sexual abuse and drug dealing. He spoke about the toll on his mental well-being and how it affected his professional career.
“When I was six years old, I was molested sexually by a friend of my mother's, who was around the house a lot,” Dele said, bringing Neville to tears.
“My mom was an alcoholic. I was sent to Africa to learn discipline and then sent back.
“At seven, I started smoking; at eight, I started dealing drugs. An older person told me they wouldn't stop a kid on a bicycle, so I rode around with my football, and then underneath I was carrying drugs.
“At 11, I was hung from a bridge. It was a guy from the neighbourhood next door, a man.
“At 12, I was adopted. An amazing family, I couldn't have asked for better people to do what they did for me. If God created people, it would be them.”
One of the significant revelations from the interview was Alli's admission of overusing sleeping pills and other vices as a coping mechanism.
“I'm afraid to talk about it. When I came back from Turkey and found out I needed an operation, I was very bad mentally and decided to go to a mental health rehabilitation center. They treat addictions and trauma. I felt it was time. You can't be told to go, you have to know and make the decision yourself or it won't work,” he explained to Neville.
Dele Alli says it all to @GNev2. ❤️
“That was heartbreaking”.pic.twitter.com/lySmw8n4kw
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 13, 2023
Dele Alli's family members have a different story
Dele Alli's uncle, Taiwo Alli, spoke out about the interview, disputing some of the claims.
He adamantly denied the accusation that his mother was an alcoholic, stating, “I can confirm that Dele Alli's mom is not an alcoholic… she's been disturbed by the news. We are contending with people with connections.”
These statements suggest that Dele's family is grappling with the fallout from the interview and its potential impact on their reputation.
Another family member, Storm Olowli, expressed shock and disbelief regarding Alli's statements during the interview.
Olowli remarked, “When we first saw the interview… we were quite shocked by some of the things that were said by Dele himself, ranging from the punishment trip to Nigeria, he said selling drugs, his mom being an alcoholic. The interview, to me, was purely false and misleading, but obviously, the majority of people don't know his family… so it's going to be very easy for people to believe what was said.”
Olowli highlighted that Dele Alli attended one of the best private schools in Nigeria, contradicting Dele's claim that he was sent to Africa as a punishment.
Olowli shared, “He went to one of the best private schools in Nigeria, it cost thirty thousand pounds a year, and the photos I uploaded, you can see Dele around a host of interracial and foreign classmates. So it seems to me like, for him to say he was sent to Africa as a punishment, is a bit absurd.”
This conflicting narrative from Alli's family members raises questions about the truth behind his upbringing and the motivations behind his statements. The family member accused Dele of being “brainwashed” and vowed to provide evidence in the form of childhood photographs that would disprove his claims.
“We have all the documents and pictures of Dele with his dad from when he was born as a kid. Dele has been brainwashed.”
“I can confirm that Dele Alli’s mom is not an alcoholic… she’s been disturbed by the news. We are contending with people with connections.”
— Ojora Babatunde (@ojbsports) July 17, 2023
Dele Alli's relationship with the Hickford family
The Hickfords, including Allan, Sally, and their son Harry, who is now Dele's agent, played a significant role in Alli's life during his early football career.
Contrary to allegations of abandonment, Dele's mother, Denise, clarified in a previous interview that he stayed with the Hickford family during the week to attend training sessions, as she was facing transportation challenges.
She emphasized, “I wanted to give him the best chance of achieving his dream, but he was still my son and I was there for him whenever he needed me.”
Dele's family member who spoke with OJBSPORT also had the following to say.
“On a particular Wednesday, Dele’s mom called Kenny that the Hickford family didn’t drop Dele as usual.
“Kenny immediately called the Hickford’s resident and they pleaded with Kenny to allow Dele spend the night with them, because they have a comfortable place and their son is good friends with Dele.
“Kenny agreed – not knowing the Hickfords had a plan all along. Along the line, it now became every Wednesday affair. That’s how they started grooming him (Dele) to whatever they are doing.”
EXCLUSIVE: “Dele Alli was never sent to Nigeria for punishment. He said he started doing drugs at the age of eight in his interview with Gary Neville, whereas he was in a private school in Nigeria by then.” – Family member.https://t.co/3NqoSDzj6J
— Ojora Babatunde (@ojbsports) July 15, 2023
Dele Alli's mother's heartbreak after interview
Amidst this controversy, Alli's biological mother, who had limited contact with him in recent years, expressed her emotional distress upon learning about her son's revelations.
In an interview with The Sun, she revealed, “I have not been able to stop crying since I heard my son describe the abuse he suffered as a child. I cannot put into words how upset I am… I no longer have contact with my son — and only hope I'll have the chance to see him again.”
On the other hand, she vehemently denied the allegations made against her in the interview.
She refuted claims of alcoholism and abandonment, asserting, “It has been said that I suffered from alcoholism and that I abandoned him because I could not take care of him, but that is a lie… I wanted to give him the chance to achieve his dream, but he was still my son, and I was there for him whenever he needed me.” Her denial adds another layer of complexity to the already intricate situation.
This Dele Alli's issue is a family matter.
Different stories from both ends. Something must have gone wrong somewhere & now exposed to public judgment.
— POOJA!!! (@PoojaMedia) July 18, 2023
With conflicting accounts and emotions running high, it is challenging to ascertain the complete truth about Alli's upbringing and the impact it has had on his life.
The conflicting statements from Dele's family members suggest a complicated and strained relationship, further clouding the already heartbreaking story shared by the footballer.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago