There’s no denying it: Dele Alli is one of the most exciting players in the English game at this moment in time.
Whether he’s tracking down defenders or surging forward on the pitch, watching the 20-year-old talent is enough excitement to get England fans believing that this tournament will definitely see the national team bring home some silverware.
But there is one concern that has been highlighted over the past few weeks in the friendlies against Turkey, and now Portugal – his temperament.
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Despite his talents, we have seen top players succumb to the tricks of opponents who know how to push the right buttons.
DELE-IGHTFUL TO WATCH
Dele Alli has provided us with some magnificent moments of brilliance this season. It’s hard to believe that last season he was playing his football at League One side MK Dons, who struggled in the Championship without him this year and were relegated back down to the third tier.
His most memorable moment so far has to be the chest, touch and volley against Crystal Palace which was immediately tipped for Goal of the Season and was likened by some to Paul Gascoigne’s wonderful Euro 96’ volley against Scotland.
He has superb skills, great balance and reads the game like a matured midfielder and certainly someone much older than his years. Add to that he has an almost telepathic connection with Harry Kane and lightening pace, he could be considered the ideal ascendant from the hole left behind by Gareth Bale, who left for Real Madrid three seasons ago.
In short, he is ‘almost’ the perfect midfielder.
There is one drawback to this sensational midfielder, like all great players – his temperament.
Dele Alli has given flashes of red midst that so many others have in years gone by and as with the others, he has been pulled up on it.
As the Premier League was drawing to a close this season, Tottenham were struggling to dispatch West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane in order to keep up the pursuit of Leicester City in the title race. As the game heated up, so did Alli and he ended up striking Claudio Yacob in the midriff - resulting in a three-match ban.
Against Turkey he showed signs a confrontation was about to erupt and against Portugal, Ricardo Carvalho’s shove was enough to make Alli react and give England fans a cause for concern.
HE’S NOT THE FIRST, HE WON’T BE THE LAST
If England go beyond the group stage which the nation hopes they will, Dele Alli will be the focus when the match gets heated and the stakes get higher. If he does lose his cool, he will walk away from the tournament as so many other England stars will, ruing a chance lost.
Captain Fantastic, David Beckham saw red in France at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Diego Simeone’s ‘theatrical’ collapse after Beckham’s lifted leg saw the future England skipper march off the pitch. Subsequently, Beckham was ridiculed all summer by football fans but he responded perfectly by winning the infamous treble with Manchester United the next season.
In 2006 at the Germany World Cup, current captain, Wayne Rooney stamped down on Ricardo Carvalho after numerous niggles in a quarterfinal match and his Manchester United team-mate at the time, Cristiano Ronaldo sealed his fate by protesting to the ref. A shove on the Portuguese star saw Wayne walk. Similarly to Beckham, Rooney won honours the season after with Manchester United by winning his first Premier League title.
KEEP IT COOL, DELE
As long as Alli concentrates on his football and ignores the protagonists in the game, he should shine at the European Championships which begins in just over a week.
However, given Beckham and Rooney’s achievements after sending offs at the World Cup, Tottenham fans might secretly be hoping Alli is dismissed!