IT’S NO BIG DELE

MK Dons star Dele Alli on stay­ing grounded de­spite his move to Spurs

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

THE FOOT­BALL League’s newly-crowned Young Player of the Year Dele Alli seem­ingly has the world at his feet, yet the MK Dons mid­fielder is in no dan­ger of get­ting car­ried away.

Since mak­ing his first-team de­but at the age of 16, the Dons knew they had a gem of a player on their hands, but manager Karl Robin­son went out of his way to keep him grounded.

Alli was not al­lowed to shirk the nor­mal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties a teenage ap­pren­tice at the club would ful­fil de­spite his fast-track path to star­dom – Robin­son had him mak­ing the cof­fee on the coach to away games.

He is ul­tra-con­fi­dent in his own abil­ity, un­der­stand­ably so with 16 goals from mid­field be­fore the week­end hav­ing helped earn a £5m move to eight-time FA Cup win­ners Tot­ten­ham.

Yet de­spite the riches set to come his way and con­tin­ual com­par­isons to for­mer Eng­land cap­tain Steven Ger­rard, Alli re­mains level-headed and be­lieves his ground­ing with a Foot­ball League club be­fore he lives the high life at Spurs has been no bad thing.

“It’s not all about which path­way you take,” he said. “It doesn’t mat­ter where you start, you can work your way up if you are sur­rounded by good peo­ple and ded­i­cate your­self. I’d like to think I have done that.

“I have got great sup­port at home and they don’t let me get car­ried away.”

Alli has not taken his eye off the ball since he put pen to pa­per on a five-and-a-half year deal with Spurs on Fe­bru­ary 2, be­fore be­ing loaned back to MK Dons.

Though he did not fea­ture in March due to an an­kle in­jury, he has played a prom­i­nent role in en­sur­ing the Dons claim at least a play-off place this sea­son, with au­to­matic pro­mo­tion also still very much on the agenda.

“When I got in­jured it gave me a bit of time to think about next sea­son, but I can hon­estly say I haven’t thought about it for a sec­ond when I’ve been play­ing,” he added. “There’s a job to fin­ish off here. I owe a lot to the club and to Karl Robin­son. Giv­ing him back per­for­mances from Fe­bru­ary un­til the end of the sea­son is the least I can do. And I want to do it, too.

“MK are my home-town club, I love the club and I want to see us get pro­moted.”

Tot­ten­ham would ap­pear to be a tai­lor-made club for Alli to join.

Manager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino is no sucker for rep­u­ta­tions hav­ing benched ex­pen­sive ac­qui­si­tions this term in favour of home-grown tal­ents Ryan Ma­son and Harry Kane, who made their Eng­land de­buts in the spring.

Alli will not have to watch as a con­veyor belt of ‘Car­los Kick­a­balls’ – as for­mer Spurs chair­man Lord Alan Sugar once dubbed them – are im­ported and move au­to­mat­i­cally ahead of him in the peck­ing or­der. The north Lon­don club’s re­cently ap­pointed head of re­cruit­ment Paul Mitchell once held a sim­i­lar role at MK Dons and he was a fac­tor in Alli turn­ing down over­tures from other Pre­mier League clubs.

And though the all-ac­tion mid­fielder may have to bide his time for a start­ing place, he has enough con­fi­dence in his own abil­ity – ex­cept for his left foot – to be­lieve he will quickly con­vince the Ar­gen­tinian boss of his tal­ents.

“Com­pe­ti­tion doesn’t worry me at all, I am re­ally ex­cited about the move,” added Alli. “I’m not go­ing to play ev­ery game, I know that, but I have joined Tot­ten­ham with the in­ten­tion to play, even if that’s af­ter a few games.

“I’m not some­one that feels the pres­sure to per­form. I tend to try and look for­ward to the next game rather than look back. Some­times I an­a­lyse games and look at the neg­a­tives to see if I can get any bet­ter. My left foot prob­a­bly needs a bit of work!”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

WHAT A SEA­SON: Dele Alli cel­e­brates scor­ing for MK Dons and, inset, shows off his Foot­ball League Young Player of the Year award

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