Dele Alli has revealed he was sexually abused at the age of six.
The 27-year-old also confessed he had an addiction to sleeping pills and spent six weeks in rehab in the United States this summer in an open and emotional interview.
After gaining his 37th England cap in 2019, Alli fell out of favour at Tottenham, prompting a move to Everton, where he has struggled to make an impression, spending last season on loan at Besiktas.
Alli highlighted how childhood trauma contributed to the challenges he has faced in recent years in an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap.
“There were a few incidents that can give you a brief understanding,” he said.
“At six, I was molested by my mum’s friend who was at the house a lot. My mum was an alcoholic.”
“I was sent to Africa to learn discipline. Then I was sent back. Seven, I started smoking. Eight I started dealing drugs, selling drugs. An older person told me they wouldn’t stop a kid so I’d ride around with my football and then underneath I’d have the 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…If God created people, it was them. They are amazing and have helped me a lot.”
Alli also revealed he had received treatment for addiction this summer.
“I got addicted to sleeping tablets and it’s probably not a problem only I have. I think it’s something that’s going around more than people realise in football.”
The England international, who spent last season on loan at Besiktas, added: “Now is probably the right time to tell people. It’s tough to talk about it as it’s quite recent and something I’ve hid for a long time and I’m scared to talk about. When I came back from Turkey, I came back and found out I needed an operation.
“I was in a bad place mentally. I decided to go to a modern rehab facility that deals with addiction and mental health and trauma. I felt it was time for me. You can’t be told to go there, you have to make the decision yourself.
“I was in a bad cycle. I was relying on things that were doing me harm. I was waking up every day, winning the fight going into training every day smiling – willing to show I was happy. Inside I was losing the battle and it was time to change. When I was told I needed surgery I could feel the feelings I had when the cycle began.
“Everton were amazing and supported me. I will be grateful to them forever. For them to be so honest and understanding I couldn’t ask for anything more during a time I was making the biggest decision of my life – doing something I was scared to do. I’m happy I’ve done it.”