World Cup 2018: Model pro Dele Alli happy to be England poster boy | Football | Sport

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Dele Alli-EnglandGETTY

World Cup 2018: Dele Alli has many fingers in many different pies

That is simply, the Tottenham star says, because he is an extremely dedicated follower of fashion.

“I haven’t been on the Tube to see it for myself, but I hear I’m at the top of every escalator,” says Alli unabashed. “People will be getting sick of seeing me!

“It’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time and, when you’re a footballer who plays for England, you get a lot of opportunities to try out new things.

“Football will always be the main focus for me, but I think it’s great we get these opportunities not only for ourselves but to help other people and I’m honoured to have this opening where I can try out something different.

“Whether it’s golf or whatever, most footballers do have a hobby to take their minds off it – seven tenths of the year it’s not easy to get drawn into everything else.


Football will always be the main focus for me, but I think it’s great we get these opportunities

Dele Alli

“But with the fashion thing I tried it out, it was a great opportunity for me, I had a lot of meetings with the creative team and a big say in what the clothes were like.”

Club manager Mauricio Pochettino was happy to endorse Alli’s venture provided he did not take his eye off the ball where it matters.

Some might argue that statistically, at least, that is already happening. Nine goals in the most recent top-flight campaign was just half the tally he achieved in 2016-17.

But then the Premier League is learning about Alli as quickly as he is learning about playing at the very highest levels.

People have been quick to jump on the lack of goals, but there has been a lot more of the sort of maturity from Alli that England will need in a high-pressure tournament overseen by VAR.

“We all know football is developing and we have to be open to change, especially in any way it can help the game as far as possible,” Alli says of the new technology.

“At the World Cup the referees and linesmen are all from a very high level anyway, so you are always aware and it’s part of football.

“You have to stay concentrated and you can’t do stupid things – and if you do, you have to learn from your mistakes. That’s just the way it is.

“I’ll just be myself, the way I always am. I want to play with passion, I want to play with hunger in every game I play – and I’ve made mistakes in the earlier part of my career – but you have to make mistakes in order to learn from them and, if you look at my record, I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes.

“I’ve got everything under control. Every game is different and you never know what’s going to happen, but that’s not what I’m going to be worrying about.

Dele Alli-World CupGETTY

World Cup 2018: Alli is hoping to start for England against Tunisia in the first group game

“I don’t think people will be trying to do bad things and, if they do and they get punished for it, then it’s your own fault.

“When you’re playing the games, you are focused on trying to help the team as much as you can, so you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you could jeopardise the team and lose the game for your team when you’re on international duty for your country.

“But there are a lot more things I need to focus on and put my concentration on, in a game rather than that.”

Getting back on the goal trail, for one. Manager Gareth Southgate recognises Alli’s ability to hit the back of the net and wants to pack his team with goalscorers in a bid to end England’s long-term failure to get the goals they need to go really deep into major tournaments.

The accuracy of Alli’s passing has cause Southgate to question his use as a No10 but his energy makes him a perfect candidate for a deeper-lying role.

“It’s not a new position for me – for my whole time at Milton Keynes I was playing there and it wasn’t really until I signed for Tottenham that I started playing in the No10 role, a bit higher up the pitch, so it’s not something I’m new to,” says Alli.

“I enjoy playing there, but when you’ve got the Three Lions on your jersey you’ll play anywhere.

“Yes, it’s the battleground and there’s a lot of different challenges but, wherever you’re needed, you have to be ready to step in.”

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