Alli reminds me of Gazza!
MATT BELL on the similarities between one current Tottenham star and another from yesteryear…
AS TOTTENHAM have become genuine title contenders in the last couple of years, young midfielder Dele Alli has caught the eye.
It was back in February 2015 that Spurs splashed out £5m to sign Alli from League One side MK Dons.
They immediately loaned him back to the Dons – who went on to win promotion - for the rest of the season.
He then linked up with Tottenham, and no one could have imagined the impact he would have in the two years that have followed.
With 28 goals and 16 assists in 70 Premier League games, everyone knows all about his quality, skill, strength and eye for goal now.
Tottenham have had some top-class midfielders over the years – Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles readily spring to mind – but there is one in particular who appears to share some of the same traits as Alli: Paul Gascoigne.
Gazza was one of English football’s brightest lights in the late 80s and early 90s. He played a massive part in England going all the way to the semi-finals of Italia ’90 with his bright, vibrant play.
Domestically, Newcastle and Tottenham fans already knew how promising this Geordie talent was. Granted, injuries, personal demons and addiction hindered his career from reaching its full potential, both for club and country.
But when he was at his best, Gascoigne, like Alli, took fans’ breath away: for country, his goal against Scotland in Euro ’96 still puts the hairs on my arms on end, and his incredible free-kick in Tottenham’s FA Cup semifinal win against Arsenal in 1991 probably still keeps Gunners goalkeeper David Seaman awake at night.
Like Alli, Gazza had goalscoring attributes, netting 19 goals in his 92 league appearances for the White Hart Lane outfit. He inspired Tottenham to reach the FA Cup final in ’91 and it highlighted why Spurs broke the British transfer record to sign him for £2.2m. Like Gascoigne showed on many occasions, Alli too has a temper about him – in two years in the Premier League, he has already picked up 11 yellow cards, while he was sent off against Gent in the Europa League at Wembley for a dangerous high tackle as Spurs crashed out. The 21-year-old Milton Keynes-born attacking midfielder has walked the tightrope at times and his spiky temperament reminds me of Gazza. As he matures, you would hope that these yellow cards would become fewer, but then that aggression is what helps make him the special talent he is, and fans love it when their players show passion. Both Tottenham and England fans can only hope that Alli continues to provide the spark that can win matches. England are in desperate need for an in-form player to lead them far in a tournament, like Gascoigne did in both ’90 and ’96, and will be hoping that Alli is in good shape when they land in Russia next year. If he is, he could be the difference between the Three Lions making an early exit or going deep into the tournament. One thing’s for certain – if he can even show some of the quality that Gazza did more than two decades ago, then England will be on to a good thing.
Pass-master: Paul Gascoigne Catching the eye: Spurs’ Dele Alli