Skip to content

Dele Alli: Soccer star says he was molested during chaotic childhood. Two decades later he entered rehab.

Dele Alli, a professional soccer player for England, claims to have recently completed a six-week stay in a rehab facility to help with his mental health and therapy for "addiction and trauma," and he also discloses that he was abused as a youngster and began dealing drugs at the age of eight.

Alli revealed to former Manchester United defender and England star Gary Neville on the The Overlap podcast, which was released on Thursday, "So, at six, I was abused by my mom's friend, who was at the house a lot.

"Since my mother was an alcoholic, that occurred when I was six. I was sent to Africa to develop my discipline before being returned. I started smoking when I was seven and sold drugs when I was eight, said Alli.

"I cycled about with my football and then beneath I'd have the drugs, that was eight. An older person assured me they wouldn't stop a youngster on a bike. When I was eleven, a man from the adjacent estate hung me from a bridge.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2018, Alli's mother said it was "painful that we've become estranged and the hard part is I don't really know why." CNN was unable to reach her for comment.

Alli claims he was adopted when he was 12 years old.

The folks Alli's new family were "if God created people, it was them," he told Neville. It was difficult for me to truly open up to them when I first moved in with them because I believed it would be simple to evict me once more. However, they were wonderful and greatly helped me.

Neville questioned Alli about his relationship with his birth mother, and Alli replied that he hasn't spoken to her since his parents broke the news of his adopted family to the world.

"After that, I just felt so betrayed, let down, and hurt that I just couldn't keep the relationship with my mom," Alli recalled.

ENGLAND'S SOUTHAMPTON - FEBRUARY 19: Following their Premier League encounter on February 19, 2022 in Southampton, England at St Mary's Stadium, Everton's Dele Alli appears defeated. (Image courtesy of Dan Istiete/Getty Images)
Neville's childhood trauma was discussed by Alli with him.
Istitene/Daniel/Getty Images
The 27-year-old Alli most recently competed for Beşiktaş of the Turkish Super Lig before returning to his English Premier League home club Everton after an injury-plagued stint in Turkey.

When she got back to the UK, Alli made the decision to go to rehab.

"My mental state was poor. I made the decision to check into a sophisticated recovery center for trauma, mental illness, and addiction, said Alli.

"I thought the time was right for me. You cannot be told to go there while things are like that. You are required to choose for yourself.

"I was stuck in a destructive cycle and depended on things that were harming me. Every day when I woke up, I felt like I was winning the battle. I would smile and act joyful at training, but on the inside, I knew I was losing. It was time for a change.

Alli stated on the Overlap podcast that Everton had been "open, honest, and understanding" as he was "probably making the biggest decision of [his] life." Everton had been highly supportive of Alli's decision to undergo rehab.

"I couldn't have predicted how it turned out. Prior to you learning about it, it was stigmatized. Going to rehab is something that many individuals don't want to undertake since it seems terrifying.

But due of my mental state at the time, I could never have anticipated how much I would benefit from it and how much it would aid me.

Everton released a statement in which it claimed to have assisted "Dele in both his return to fitness and overcoming the personal challenges highlighted in his interview with The Overlap."

Everton continued, "Everyone at Everton respects and applauds Dele's bravery to speak about the struggles he has faced and seek the necessary help."

Turkey's Istanbul, on December 21: On December 21, 2022, in Istanbul, Turkey, during the Ziraat Turkish Cup game between Besiktas and Sanliurfaspor, Dele Alli (R) of Besiktas and Seyit Gazanfer (L), Bunyamin Balat #11 of Sanliurfaspor compete for the ball. Seskim Photo/MB Media/Getty Images provided the image.
Alli most recently competed for Beşiktaş in the Turkish Super League.
MB Media/Seskim Photo/Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur, Alli's previous team, posted a photo of Alli along with an emoji of a white heart.

The former Spurs star said that, at the time of his appearance on Neville's podcast, it had been just three weeks since he had left rehab.

My addiction and the actions I took to numb my emotions had been going on for a while. Whether it was for drinking or anything else, I was unaware that it was for that reason.

"I developed a sleeping pill addiction, and it's likely a problem that not just I have. I believe that it affects football more frequently than most people realize.

Alli explained to Neville that he had made the decision to talk about his concerns in the hopes of assisting others who might be going through a similar situation.

If I were being completely honest, I probably wouldn't have wanted to discuss it so soon and might have rather to wait a little bit. Maybe I could have given myself a little bit more time while I was speaking about it, but sadly, with the way things are now, the tabloids found out and kept calling my team to let them know they knew where I was and other things.

CNN has gotten in touch with Tottenham and Beşiktaş to get their thoughts on the support Alli has received.

"The clubs that the players play for actively oversee the medical protocols and procedures. The English Football Association released a statement to CNN saying, "We expect all clubs and their doctors to uphold the highest level of medical practice by providing treatment, support, and advice to their players that meets their required professional standards."

The PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] and the Sporting Chance mental health charity, both endorsed by The FA, offer support services for players who are impacted by addiction, according to the governing body of English soccer.

According to the Premier League, it uses a range of strategies to support struggling players both in the past and present.

The funding of an independent player helpline, the provision of support courses, and the provision of doable measures to assist vulnerable players, such as counseling sessions and residential support, are a few examples.

Note from the editor: If you live in the US and are experiencing suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, or if you know someone who is, please phone the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to the hotline's website.
Please review CALM's list of overseas services that provide mental health support if you reside outside of the US.




Daniel Jack

For Daniel, journalism is a way of life. He lives and breathes art and anything even remotely related to it. Politics, Cinema, books, music, fashion are a part of his lifestyle.