Dele Alli aiming to play in next World Cup

Dele Alli appearing on SKY Premier League Live
Dele Alli appeared as a pundit on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football - Sky Sports

Everton midfielder Dele Alli has said he can see “a light at the end” of the tunnel, nearly a year since the interview which revealed the depth of his childhood trauma.

Alli has not featured in the Premier League for his club since August 2022, with his last appearance on loan at Besiktas in February of last year. But the former England player was special guest on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football coverage of Chelsea v Everton and clarified that he was still out injured rather than taking a break from the game. “I am doing really well,” said Alli. “I’m feeling good, obviously injured which is disappointing but I am doing well. I can see the light at the end, so I’m excited.

“I know my level where I can get to when my head is in the right place. You can set reminders on your phone. World Cup 2026. That’s my aim.

“The only target I have for now is the World Cup. I take it day by day to get over my injury. I will be fully training as the season is ending. As a player you want to push yourself.

“I am signed to Everton and it would be disrespectful to speak about anyone else,” he said. “They have been amazing to me. I want to stay in the Premier League and be at the highest level playing against the right players.

“There have been some dark days but I have been able to process those days and it has done nothing but make me want to get to the top more. I can relax and work towards my end goal.

“Going through this makes it better when I get back to the top. The wait will be worth it.”

Last July, Alli spoke to Gary Neville on The Overlap for a wide-ranging interview which covered his abuse as a six-year-old by a friend of his biological mother, smoking by seven and dealing drugs at eight. Alli also revealed he had spent time in rehab to treat an addiction to sleeping pills. “Coming out of rehab has been tough but it has been a journey and I am enjoying it.

“When I did that interview, if I helped one person, that is all I wanted from it. The reaction I got and the support was definitely overwhelming but it was amazing how many people it did help and I’m definitely very proud of it.”

Sky Sports presenter David Jones said people had been hoping he would play a big part for Sean Dyche’s team this season. “I was too,” said Alli. “I have really had to learn what patience is, it has been a long journey with the injury, a lot of ups and downs. It’s something I’ve learnt a lot from and it’s helped me grow as a person which I’ll forever be thankful for. Obviously not thankful to be injured, but I think the pain of the injury is something I can learn from.

“It’s just been an injury problem. After the interview a lot of people were asking me when I was coming back to football, thinking I was just taking a break. But it is just an injury and one I am hopefully coming to the end of.”

Alli spent seven years at Tottenham after making his breakthrough with Milton Keynes Dons and was a key player for Gareth Southgate in England’s run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. But his form and confidence declined in the years that followed and he has only played 13 times since joining Everton in 2022 and has not featured for England since 2019.

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