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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Dele Alli: Everton midfielder says he is ‘doing well’ and ‘can see light at end’ of injury misery

Everton midfielder Dele Alli has said he is “feeling good” and “getting to the end” of a recovery from injury which has kept the former England international out of football since February 2023.

Dele was loaned to Besiktas by Everton last season, playing 15 times and scoring three goals before returning to Goodison Park for injury treatment.

In an interview with former Three Lions defender Gary Neville last July, Dele said he was sexually abused at the age of six, started smoking as a seven-year-old and was dealing drugs as an eight-year-old.

Now 28, he spent six weeks in rehab shortly before revealing the experiences he endured during his childhood, receiving help for a sleeping pill addiction and mental health issues.

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“I’m doing really well,” Dele told Sky Sports, speaking before Everton’s trip to Chelsea in the Premier League on Monday.

“I’m feeling good. When I did that interview, I said it was the best I had felt – coming out of rehab and getting ready to be back playing.

“It’s been tough but it’s a journey I’m on and I’m enjoying it. I’ve really had to learn what patience is.

“There have been lots of ups and downs. It’s something which I’ve learned a lot from and has helped me grow as a person, which I’ll forever be thankful for.

“I’m not thankful to be injured, but to have this opportunity to really get to know myself. The pain of the injury is something I can really channel when I am back in, helping to keep motivating me as something I can learn from.”

Dele comeback from injury ‘exciting’

The former MK Dons player’s drop in form had mystified many after a dazzling start to his top-flight career which included reaching the 2018/19 Uefa Champions League final during seven seasons at Tottenham and being a key player for England as they reached the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals.

“When I did the interview, I said if I helped one person, that was all I needed,” he said. “The reaction and support was definitely overwhelming but it was amazing to see how many people it helped. I’m proud of it.

“After the interview, a lot of people were asking me when I was coming back to football and thinking I was taking a break.

“It is just an injury – one that hopefully I’m getting to the end of. I can see the light at the end, so I’m excited.”

Dele has played only 13 times for Everton since joining them in 2022 but the Toffees are reportedly open to offering him a new contract when his current deal ends at the end of the campaign.

An agreement is thought to partly depend on whether Everton can renegotiate the terms of their agreement with Tottenham to sign him.

While Dele initially moved on a free transfer, Everton are required to pay £10 million if he makes 20 appearances for them.

Should Dele rediscover his best form, the two-time PFA Young Player of the Season could be a vital part of an Everton squad who have again struggled in 2023/24.

“It’s a strange one because they create so many chances and don’t score many goals, but the quality is there,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time.”

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