The meteoric rise of England's latest hope: Dele Alli


Any player making his England debut, being compared to Gazza and awarded the Young Player of the Year prize after just one season in the Premier League demands attention - so it's little wonder Dele Alli is the man of the moment.

The youngster has quickly become an integral part of Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham side and is expected to be just as important for England's Euro 2016 campaign.

Here we look at the meteoric rise and potential of a 20-year-old who has set the Premier League alight this season with goals, assists and a feisty competitive streak.

A born runner

Dele Alli

Born in Milton Keynes in 1996, Alli signed for his hometown club aged eleven, and just five years later was playing in their first team. His enthusiasm for running - which is mandatory for any Tottenham player under Pochettino - seems to have been apparent from a young age. Alli's under-11s manager tells a story of him once turning up late for a Sunday morning match, only to ride in on a bicycle, having completed a cross-country race the other side of Milton Keynes earlier that morning.

No fears for young Dele

Dele Alli

Soon after making his debut as a sixteen-year-old in 2012, the midfielder was an important player for his hometown club. He netted 16 goals in his final season at the Dons, helping his side secure promotion and also collecting the Football League Young Player of the Year award. Oh, and he also played an impressive role in MK Dons' 4-0 win over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup.

Spurs get their man

Dele Alli

After such an emphatic season, it was no surprise the Premier League clubs were sniffing around in January. Alli signed for Tottenham for a reported £5m, but returned on loan to MK Dons for the remainder of the season. He wasted no time in settling in at Spurs, nutmegging Real Madrid's Luka Modric in a pre-season friendly and giving supporters a sign of what was to come in his debut season.

Premier League? Easy

Dele Alli and Sergio Aguero

Following on from embarrassing former Spurs fan favourite Modric, Alli soon turned his attention to setting alight the Premier League. He made his league debut coming on as a substitute in the opening day defeat to Man United and scored in the next game against Leicester. His initial aim was just to start 10 games for his new club, but that target was blown out of the water. The 20-year-old made 46 appearances in his debut season, scoring 10 times and playing a leading role in the team's surprise title challenge.

Roy comes calling

Dele Alli

By October, Alli's outstanding form saw him earn an England call-up. He scored his first goal for the national side on his fourth appearance against France, driving the ball from 25 yards past his club team-mate Hugo Lloris and into the top corner. An outstanding appearance in the win against Germany in March secured his place at Euro 2016 and he is widely expected to start the tournament in midfield for England.

Plaudits and, of course, controversy

Dele Alli

Adulation for Alli's talent has been unrelenting and the comparisons to former midfield dynamos diverse.
Jamie Redknapp found likeness with Steven Gerrard, Alli's childhood hero. Roy Hodgson predicted he could be England's next Bryan Robson and Sir Alex Ferguson said he was the best young midfielder he had seen since Paul Gascoigne.
There was certainly a hint of Gascoigne about arguably Alli's finest goal of the season, against Crystal Palace in January, when he cushioned the ball on his knee, flicked it over his head and volleyed home from outside the penalty area. Even some of the Palace supporters applauded.

However, Alli has also courted controversy with his feisty on-field attitude. He was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for what looked like a stamp against Fiorentina in the Europa League, and missed Tottenham's end of season run-in after being hit with a three-match ban for appearing to punch West Brom's Claudio Yacob. Pochettino has admitted Alli is "a little bit naughty" - but wants his young midfielder to stay that way.

Can he lead England to success?

Alli and Rose

In a year of firsts for the cheeky and confident Alli, he has never once seemed fazed by the weight of expectation from both club and country. He's made his Premier League debut, and scored his first goal. Competed in a title chase, played in Europe. And for England. Appeared in his inaugural north London derby. All culminating in his first international tournament.

If, as expected, Alli starts for Hodgson's side, and continues his knack for defying nerves at every turn, then he could very well become the star of a tournament in a crowning summer following the whirlwind 12 months that preceded it.

David GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY