England star Dele Alli reveals he was sexually abused aged six and 'sent to Africa' in emotional interview

13 July 2023, 10:31 | Updated: 13 July 2023, 10:52

Dele Alli has been backed by fellow players
Dele Alli has been backed by fellow players. Picture: Alamy/YouTube

By Will Taylor

Ex-England star Dele Alli has revealed he was sexually abused when he was six years old.

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The Everton midfielder said his early years were spent dealing drugs and being sent to Africa to "learn discipline".

The 27-year-old also revealed he had spent time in rehab for a sleeping pill addiction.

He told The Overlap, Gary Neville's show: "At six I was molested."

Alli spoke frankly about serious problems he suffered during his childhood, opening up after recent years of struggle in his career.

"I was sent to Africa to learn discipline and then I was sent back," he said.

"At seven I started smoking and then at eight I started selling drugs.

"An older person told me they wouldn't stop a kid on a bike so I'd ride around with my football and underneath I'd have drugs.

Read more: Promising young footballer with university plans stabbed to death as teenager charged

"At 11 I was hung off a bridge… by a guy from the next estate. A man.

"By 12 I was adopted but from then it was like I was adopted by an amazing family."

He was one of the best young prospects during the 2010s, when he played an important role during England's 2018 World Cup campaign.

Read more: Former footballer Gary Neville to be 'guest Dragon' on BBC's Dragons' Den next year

The midfielder played for Tottenham Hotspur during a time the club was competing for the Premier League and started the 2019 Champions League final, which they lost to Liverpool.

Since then, his performances have dipped and he transferred to Everton, most recently returning from a loan to Besiktas in Turkey.

"When I came back from Turkey I found out I needed an operation I was in a bad place mentally and I decided to go to a modern day rehab facility for mental health," he said.

"They deal with addiction and trauma. I felt it was time for me.

"You can't be told to go there - you have to know and make the decision yourself or it's not going to work.

"I was caught in a bad cycle and things that were doing me harm."

Dele Alli has revealed he was molested as a boy
Dele Alli has revealed he was molested as a boy. Picture: Alamy

Alli shared the interview on his Instagram.

"I recently sat down with Gary Neville to speak about my life and what's been happening in recent years. Head over to to watch the full interview. The link is in my bio," he said.

Neville wrote on Twitter: "I'm struggling to find the words to put with this post but please watch my most recent interview with Dele. It's the most emotional, difficult yet inspirational conversation I've ever had in my life."

Footballers rallied to Alli's support. England midfielder James Maddison said: "Proud of you brother! Love you always."

Fellow Everton player Dominic Calvert-Lewin said: "Extremely proud of you bro."