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The Big Interview - Dele Alli

Posted on 16 April 2016  - 12:05

Having watched Harry Kane pick up the award last year, Dele Alli admits he never imagined being back at the PFA awards this time around as a Young Player nominee. That’s how fast his season has progressed and as he turned 20 this week, he took time out to talk about being shortlisted, the season so far and shifted targets...

Dele at Hotspur WayFirst goal at LeicesterCelebrations at Goodison ParkGoal at SouthamptonGoal at NorwichLining-up proudly with Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Danny Rose in GermanyCelebrating Eric's winner in Berlin

And what a season - from impressing in pre-season, nutmegging Luke Modric in the Allianz Arena, making his debut at Old Trafford, his first goal at Leicester, first Premier League start at Sunderland in September, England debut in October, screamer on his full England debut at Wembley, Goal of the Season contender in January right up to providing a seventh assist for Harry Kane and playing his part alongside three Spurs team-mates in England’s win in Germany last month, he’s taken it all in his stride.

Well done on your PFA Young Player nomination…
Dele:
“I was at the awards last year as I was in the League One Team of the year. I saw Harry there, one of the first times I’d seen him and he won the PFA Young Player award. It was great to see a player from Tottenham winning that award. It’s a big award, especially with the number of youngsters in this team and in the Premier League. There have been a lot of young players breaking through so for me to be nominated is a great feeling.”

Could you imagine a year on that you’d be back at the PFA’s as a nominee?
Dele: “I can’t say I expected it. I have had a good season but I still have a lot of learn and a lot to improve on. I have to give a lot of thanks to the manager here and the staff for putting their trust in me and helping me improve.”

Below: Dele's wonder goal at Palace - special animation

 


It all started in pre-season…

Dele: “I came in early to do some work with Anton (McElhone, rehab and conditioning coach) and got to know the place a bit better. Once pre-season started, I wasn’t really worried about the fitness side of it because I’ve always been naturally fit, it was more about the football side of things and focusing on that because it’s a lot quicker and I wanted to improve on that and show what I could do.”

And what an incredible nine months it’s been since the first few days of pre-season in July!
Dele: “It’s been crazy and a lot has happened really quickly. At the start of the season I was coming off the bench, I just wanted to impress and I give a lot of credit to the manager for putting his trust in me and giving me my debut at Old Trafford. It’s moved on quickly since then.”

Like Harry Kane, you’ve taken every step in your stride, do you feel that way?
Dele: “It’s important to have confidence and the self-belief that when you step out there, you expect things to happen and expect to play well. It’s important not to get carried away, look to keep improving and make next season even better.”

You are no longer a teenager! You’ve broken the club’s record for goals from a teenager in a Premier League season…
Dele: “It’s always nice to break records. My target was actually 10 goals and I’ve missed a few chances so hopefully next season I’ll score a few more! I’ll look to keep improving. I have to say 20 sounds a lot older than 19. I feel a lot older now but still young enough to get away with things!”

Flashback! Dele speaks to Spurs TV after his first start against Real Madrid in August

 


Any targets left for the season?

Dele: “At the start of the season my target was to get 10 starts but as the season progressed I changed that to 10 goals. I can’t say I expected it. I always had confidence in my ability and I knew I would get a chance here, that’s one of the main reasons I signed for Tottenham because we have a great manager who works a lot with youngsters and you can see that this season. We have great youngsters in the team and everyone is looking to fight for their place. It’s been a crazy year and I never thought it would happen this quickly.”

Look out for more from Dele on Stoke on Monday...