Dele Alli told ‘time for talking stops now’ as ex-manager urges comeback amid huge England ‘aim’

Jason Soutar
Dele Alli before a Premier League match
Dele Alli before a Premier League match

A former manager of Everton midfielder Dele Alli has urged him to continue “working hard” as he eyes a return to the England squad.

Dele – whose Everton contract expires this summer – has not played in the Premier League since August 2022, with his last England cap coming against Switzerland in June 2019.

Last summer, the 29-year-old revealed he had been sexually abused as a six-year-old and fell into selling drugs aged just eight, leading to psychological problems later in life. He also opened up about a sleeping pill addiction which led to a stay at a rehab clinic.

Dele said going public with his problems was part of a process that has enabled him to learn important lessons about himself, which have in turn helped him through a testing period of injury.

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He has not played since a loan spell at Besiktas was cut short two years ago due to a hip problem and a groin issue has stopped a return to the Everton squad.

Dele is working to get back to his best after peaking during his younger years at Tottenham, revealing last month that he is eyeing a return to the England squad for the 2026 World Cup.

“I have a reminder on my phone every single day at 11 o’clock – World Cup 2026,” he told Sky Sports.

“People will be like, ‘He hasn’t played in a year’ but that’s my aim. I know where my level is.”

Dele Alli told ‘time to stop talking’ amid England ambition

And his former manager at MK Dons, Karl Robinson, has discussed Dele’s emergence at Spurs as a teenager.

“Tottenham was the right environment for him,” he told talkSPORT. “There was proof in his meteoric rise.

“What Mauricio [Pochettino] did with him at Tottenham was incredible, he got to a Champions League final.

“Everyone has a back story and a problem in their lives and when we find it difficult, it does come back to bite us. Some people have different coping mechanisms, some people have better coping mechanisms.

“In Dele’s case, his was something he has to deal with personally. He then comes back and gets injured, which sets him back probably another 12 months.

“For me, Dele went in to try to be an individual then from that moment, everything went wrong.

“He tried to be an individual, the mental health situation he had, going to the rehab clinic in America. It all started coming out. No one knew at that moment where Dele was in his life.”

Robinson added that Dele should get his head down to improve his fitness, acknowledging that he is working hard.

“It’s time for the talking to stop now,” he continued. “He has to have a summer where his pre-season is right, all his talking and positivity is brilliant.

“I’m happy to see him happy first and foremost. Now I’ll be even happier if he goes and does what he loves.

“I know he’s working hard, I know he’s got the bit between his teeth, I do know he wants to be successful. I do know he’s looking in the face of adversity and there will be an element of fear because we all carry that.

“The big thing for me is stands there, puts his chest out and works his hardest and success will follow that.”

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