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Dele Alli [file photo]. Alamy Stock Photo
Good to Talk

Everton's Dele Alli opens up about sexual abuse, drug addiction and mental health struggles

The Everton midfielder has laid bare his difficult upbringing before he was adopted by the Hickford family.

DELE ALLI HAS revealed he was sexually abused at the age of six and was dealing drugs by the time he was just eight years old.

In an emotional interview, the Everton midfielder fought back tears as he laid bare his difficult upbringing before he was adopted by the Hickford family.

Alli also told Gary Neville in The Overlap podcast in partnership with Sky Bet that he has battled a sleeping pill addiction and only came out of rehab last month as he struggled with his mental health.

The England international, who spent last season on loan at Besiktas, said: “When I came back from Turkey, I came in and I found out that I need an operation and I was in a bad place mentally.

“I decided to go to like a modern-day rehab facility for mental health. They deal with like addiction, mental health, and trauma because it was something that I felt like it was time for.

“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.”

Alli said that he had been able to mask his difficulties.

“To be honest, I was caught in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm and, yeah, I think I was waking up every day and I was winning the fight, you know, going into training, smiling, showing that I was happy,” he said.

“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 begins and I didn’t want it to happen anymore.

The Overlap / YouTube

“So, I went there, I went there for six weeks and Everton were amazing about it, you know. They supported me 100 per cent and I’ll be grateful to them forever.”

Alli – a key part of the England side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals – laid bare the sickening abuse he received as a child, saying he was “molested” at the age of six.

“I was sent to Africa to learn discipline, and then I was sent back,” he said. “At seven, I started smoking, eight I started dealing drugs.

“An older person told me that they wouldn’t stop a kid on a bike, so I rode around with my football, and then underneath I’d have the drugs, that was eight. Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate, a man.

“Twelve, I was adopted – and from then, it was like – I was adopted by an amazing family like I said, I couldn’t have asked for better people to do what they’d done for me. If God created people, it was them.”

Need to talk? Support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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