Dele Alli: 'I wouldn't say I'm nervous, I'm more excited'

Wednesday 22 Apr 2015
MK Dons midfielder Dele Alli chats exclusively to
The floodlights may have been dimming, but there was a sparkle in Dele Alli’s eyes as he made his way out into the bowl of Stadium mk.

The MK Dons midfielder, who turned 19 little over a week ago, helped his side continue their promotion push from League One by laying on two assists for team-mate Carl Baker in their 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday evening.

The youngster, who will join Tottenham Hotspur this summer, recently returned from six weeks out with an ankle injury. His comeback has coincided with a run of five wins and a draw from Dons' last six matches, leaving them breathing down the neck of second-placed Preston and a point outside the last automatic promotion spot with two games remaining.

Dele Alli factfile

DOB: April 11 1996 (Aged 19)
Place of birth: Milton Keynes
Club: MK Dons (on-loan from Tottenham)
Debut: v Cambridge City (FA Cup, November 2 2012)
Position: Midfield
2014/15 apps: 42
2014/15 goals: 16
England U19s: 5 caps

Alli exclusively told "We'd have liked to have found our form a bit earlier, but we are really enjoying playing with each other.

“We're taking each game as it comes and not getting too carried away about what Preston are doing - obviously it is important to us but we are just going to keep doing as well as we can and see what happens at the end."

The anticipation of the 8,000-strong crowd was clear to see every time Alli picked up the ball and the expectation of the MK faithful is not without warrant. Alli has scored 16 goals and provided many more assists over the campaign and the home support have come to expect the spectacular.

Milton Keynes-born Alli looked like he was in the mood to oblige his public with the the breakthrough goal against Rovers - firstly trying his luck with a rasping effort on 18 minutes before the ball found him lurking on the edge of the area to unleash a low drive, but both times he was denied by the goalkeeper.

A stoppage in play soon followed that allowed him time to remove his undergarment, perhaps a sign to the opposition that now he really meant business, but he and the game were to remain goalless as the contest reached the halfway stage.

"I like to get a few goals, so when I'm not hitting them as well as I can I obviously get a bit frustrated. But we knew a goal was going to come, it was just a matter of time," he reflected.

"I don't care if I'm not scoring - as long as someone is that's what's important."

Alli has scored 16 times for MK Dons this campaign (pic by Lee Scriven)

Alli has scored 16 times for MK Dons this campaign (pic by Lee Scriven)

The deadlock was broken 10 minutes into the second half, albeitin fortuitous circumstances as a defensive headed clearance struck Dean Bowditch's forehead and looped into the top corner.

"That's what it takes to win things. Sometimes it does take a bit of luck to win games. I think we dominated the whole game and it was just that one little thing that was going to make the difference."

With the pressure lifted, the Dons zipped the ball around in impressive fashion, especially Alli, who would go on to provide both assists for Baker to complete a resounding win.

"I like to get forward so that's going to happen me getting a few assists," he said.

"When I first broke into the team I was put out on the left wing for the first time. The manager said it was to help me focus and concentrate on my forward attacking play. Before that I was more defensive.

"I set myself a target at the start of the season, I've reached 16 goals, and I've been working on my finishing and forward runs."

The impact Alli is having on Karl Robinson's side has not gone unnoticed outside of MK1.

'It's a big step up and it's going to be a new challenge for me but I feel like I'm ready for it. I wouldn't say I'm nervous, I'd say I'm more excited'

Alli on his move to Spurs

On Sunday he was voted Young Player of the Year at the Football League Awards, a proud moment for the modest young man.

"It was a real honour to win it - especially with the players that I was up against in Patrick [Bamford] and Nathan Redmond.

“They're great players, and from playing with Patrick last season [during Bamford's loan spell at MK Dons] I know just how good he is, so it was a great honour and achievement for me.

"But I wouldn't have been able to do it without my team-mates. You can see from this game how much we all help each other."

Alli's performances also attracted the attentions of Spurs, who signed him in January before loaning him back for the remainder of the season.

But exactly what sort of player will the north London club be welcoming to White Hart Lane?

"I don't know who I'd compare myself to, that's a hard one, but I'd say I'm more of a typical No8 that likes to get forward," explained Alli.

"When I was a bit younger I was playing defensive mid and I do like to do that, but we've got Darren Potter doing that job sitting between the centre-backs and midfield being the playmaker and starting things off.

"It doesn't matter to me, I don't mind playing that No8 attacking role, but I feel I can do both, sitting and attacking."

Being on the cusp of a move to the top-flight, few would begrudge Alli a few nerves, but he is taking it all in his stride.

"It's a big step up and it's going to be a new challenge for me but I feel like I'm ready for it. I wouldn't say I'm nervous, I'd say I'm more excited," he said with a smile.

Alli has appeared five times for England U19s

Alli has appeared five times for England U19s

It is not only at Stadium mk where Alli has impressed this season. His performances for Sean O'Driscoll's England Under-19s side saw him become an integral part of the set-up.

There is no doubt that his absence through injury was felt as the Young Lions narrowly avoided qualification for the European Championship in France last month.

But with Aidy Boothroyd preparing to take his England U20s to the Toulon Tournament at the end of May, Alli admits he is already aiming to push on with his international career by climbing up the age-groups.

"I'm not going to lie and say it isn't [a target]," he said. "You want to do as well as you can. The aim is to eventually get into the first-team. Obviously the next step to that is the U21s and that's the aim for me to try and break into that squad or the U20s."

He continued: "I really enjoyed playing for the U19s this year, especially with the team we had and the manager. We played a real attractive game, and we liked to play football and that is what I'm used to so it wasn't like I was going away and playing a whole new style.

'My aim is to eventually get into the seniors, so any age-group I play in the better for me'

Alli on his England ambitions

"I've really enjoyed it and obviously my aim is to eventually get into the seniors. So any age-group I play in the better for me. The aim next year for me is to play at the highest level I can for England."

No matter what happens over the next 12 months, with his move to the capital and his international aspirations, Alli will no doubt relish each new challenge that comes his way.

But as the lights go out inside the arena he has lit up on many occasions, there is something burning brightly in the youngster's eyes as he revealed his perfect ending to his time with his home-town club.

He said: "At the start of the season I knew how good we were. We set a target of getting promotion and that was my main ambition to help get them up.

"That's still the main aim at the minute and that would be a dream if I could help them do that."

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer