Everton’s Dele Alli says he was sexually abused as a child and dealt drugs before he was adopted by an “amazing” family who helped him to turn his life around.
Alli, a former England international, also said in an interview that he recently spent six weeks in rehab as a result of an addiction to sleeping pills.
The midfielder joined Everton on a two-and-a-half-year deal in February last year in a bid to revive his career after seven years at Tottenham Hotspur.
He moved to Turkish side Besiktas on loan for the 2022/2023 season and came out of rehab last month.
“It’s been going on for a long time without me realising it. I was doing it (sleeping pills) to numb the feelings I had – I didn’t realise I was doing it for that purpose,” the 27-year-old said.
“I’ve definitely abused them too much. It got really bad at some points and I didn’t understand how bad it was.
- Seun Oloketuyi earns Ekiti Future Agenda award
- Danjuma picks 20 for Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon
- Buhari sold Nigeria’s future, left poor economy for Tinubu — PDP Governor
- African Games: Bosso lists 20 as Flying Eagles jet out
- Erotic Monday Night: Sample sex, by Tiwa Says
”But I was never dealing with the root of the problem – when I was growing up the traumas I had, the feelings I had and I tried to deal with it all by myself. I lost myself for a few years.”
Alli was part of the England team which reached the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final in Russia.
He was born in Milton Keynes in central England to a Nigerian father and an English mother, but his father left shortly after his birth.
Alli spent two years in Nigeria with his father as a child before returning to England, and at the age of 13 he was taken in by Alan and Sally Hickford.
In the interview, he spoke emotionally about his troubled childhood.
He said he was sexually abused by a friend of his mother when he was six years old and was dealing drugs by the age of eight.
“At six, I was molested,” he said. “I was sent to Africa to learn discipline. Then I was sent back. Seven, I started smoking. Eight I started dealing drugs.
“Eleven, I was hung off a bridge by a guy from the next estate.
“At 12, I was adopted. And from then, I was adopted by an amazing family, I couldn’t have asked for better people to do what they’ve done for me.”
Everton said they had offered Alli their full support.
“The club has been supporting Dele in both his return to fitness and overcoming the personal challenges highlighted in his interview,” the club said in a statement.
“Everyone at Everton respects and applauds Dele’s bravery to speak about the difficulties he has faced, as well as seek the help required.”
Alli, who twice won the PFA Young Player of the Year award while at Tottenham, is injured at present but could feature next season for Sean Dyche’s Everton.
“I’m feeling good in that sense, probably another few weeks (away from returning from injury) and then get back playing and enjoying football which is what I want to do,” he said.
“So, I’m ready for a big season and I’m more prepared to deal with any challenge that comes with it.”