'Brave and inspirational': Prince William backs footballer Dele Alli after he reveals he was sexually abused aged six

13 July 2023, 14:21 | Updated: 13 July 2023, 15:15

Dele Alli has been backed by Prince William
Dele Alli has been backed by Prince William. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Will Taylor

Prince William has praised Dele Alli for his "brave and inspirational" interview as the ex-England star discussed his mental health and revealed he was sexually abused aged six.

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

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

"At six I was molested," he told ex-pro and pundit Gary Neville in the emotional interview.

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

William tweeted: "Brave and inspirational @dele_official. Discussing mental health is not a sign of weakness. Let's keep the conversation going. We're all with you and we wish you the very best."

He told The Overlap, Neville's show: "I was sent to Africa to learn discipline and then I was sent back.

"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.

"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."

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."

An Everton spokesman said: "The club has been supporting Dele in both his return to fitness and overcoming the personal challenges highlighted in his interview with The Overlap.

"Everyone at Everton respects and applauds Dele's bravery to speak about the difficulties he has faced, as well as seek the help required. The physical and mental welfare of all our players is of paramount importance."