Dele Alli reveals he was sexually abused at six in ’emotional and difficult’ chat on Gary Neville’s The Overlap

A stark reminder that you never know what's really going on in people's lives and the world is far bigger than football.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 13th July 2023

Former Spurs star and England international Dele Alli has opened up about his turbulent last few years in football, mental health struggles and difficult childhood, tragically revealing that he was sexually abused as a six-year-old.

Speaking in an exclusive on the latest episode of Gary Neville’s The Overlap, Alli said that “now is the right time to talk” about all of the issues he has been struggling with both personally and professionally in recent times, as well as historically, in what proved to be a very tough chat for both of them.

Writing on social media, Neville confessed that he lost for words after speaking to the one-time elite Premier League player once considered among the best young talents in Europe, urging people to “please watch” as “it’s the most emotional, difficult yet inspirational conversation I’ve ever had in my life.”

Even in sharing just a short trailer on Twitter, you can see that both Alli and his former England coach broke into tears as they discussed trauma, addiction, depression and more.

Trigger warning: Dele Alli’s episode of The Overlap is undoubtedly the most difficult watch of the series yet.

As the 27-year-old detailed in the tell-all talk, “At six I was molested by my mum’s friend who was at the house a lot” and that his biological “mum was an alcoholic”.


He explained how the trauma and being “sent to Africa to learn discipline”, only to be ultimately “sent back” to that same environment, led him to admit himself into a rehabilitation facility in the US and start dealing with his wounds.

During a six-week stay, Dele faced up to other seriously damaging childhood experiences, including taking up smoking aged just seven, starting to sell drugs at eight and being “hung off a bridge by a man” when he was only 11.


He went on to add that even after being adopted by an “amazing family” at the age of 12, he struggled to let go of the memories and the feelings that went along with them.

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Naturally, after discussing such a variety of difficult subjects, both Alli and Neville eventually broke into tears, with the pundit and commentator doing his best to put an arm around him and a much-needed shoulder to cry on.

Alli also revealed how he had been struggling with a sleeping pill addiction for the last couple of years, taking them “during the day” and sometimes even as “early as 11 in the morning” not only to help him rest (fairly common in professional football) but to “just escape”.


In addition to “partying a lot” during the period when he was dropped and called “lazy” by Jose Mourinho at Spurs, he said his reliance on substances became evident and his family were left “crying asking for [him] to tell them what’s wrong”. He even said he debated retiring at the age of just 24.

This, sadly, doesn’t even scratch the surface of the topics they discussed — depression, the pressures of being a footballer and public figure, media treatment and more. You can watch Gary Neville’s The Overlap interview with Dele in full down below:

Dele Alli discusses being sexually abused, getting hooked on sleeping pills, nearly retiring at 24 and various other tough topics.

For anyone struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Samaritans on 116 123, text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258, contact the NHS on 101 or, if it’s an emergency, call 999 immediately.

You can also find helpful resources regarding sexual abuse support HERE.

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Featured Image — The Overlap/Sky Bet (via YouTube)