“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something.
But, Nigeria has no reason to hold any sort of grudge against Alli.”
The Nigerian national team lost their international friendly World Cup warm-up match to England on the 2nd June 2018, and it seems the away fans blamed Dele Alli for their loss.
The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to England in their penultimate encounter before heading out for Russia for the tournament proper. Dele Alli, whose father (Kehinde Alli) is a Nigerian was senselessly booed by the away fans each time he touched the ball. The boos continued in the second half and even got louder when he was substituted in the 80th minute.
Red card risk
Although, some Nigerian fans wanted him to overreact and get sent off, just like David Beckham was infamously sent off in the 1998 World Cup after being provoked by Argentina’s Diego Simeone.
But the Tottenham star has vowed that he will not be a red-card risk in Russia and has insisted his temperament is under control as he heads to his first World Cup.
The Tottenham’s talented play-maker has a fiery side that sometimes leads to trouble with referees and opponents. Alli has picked up 27 yellow cards and one red in the last three seasons since joining Spurs in 2018.
Some Nigerian fans seem to have a grudge with him for another reason; probably for not playing for his Papa’s land, but can you blame the young boy whose father and mother reportedly left him with foster parents when he was a child. Now as a grown up 22-year-old, his maternal home – England is happy to claim him as their very own “son of the soil.” Perhaps, until he commits a crime or fails to shine in his career, then England will remember his roots and gladly return him to Nigeria.
Never the less, the grudges of Nigerian fans don’t make much sense if they really know his pain and disappointments from both parents as a child.
Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something. Alli owes nothing to Nigeria or England. If you allow yourself to be haunted by what someone did to you yesterday, you will hold a grudge and harbour anger and resentment, and this could be a poison to your soul.
Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger and set yourself free. A life lived without forgiveness is a prison with high walls.
But, Nigeria has no reason to hold any sort of grudge against Alli.
Childhood and upbringing
Alli was born in Milton Keynes when his dad, Kehinde was in the United Kingdom studying for a Masters degree at De Montfort University during which Kehinde met Denise at a nightclub.
Alli was initially brought up by his mother, Denise. His mum and dad got married at Bletchley Register Office in Bucks just before his birth in April 1996, but parted a week later and travelled to the United States. In other words, his dad left him when he was one week old. Although, his mum and dad remained married for three years.
Denise also raised son Lewis, 13, daughters Becky, 24, and Barbara, 27, who all stayed with her. She said: “Times were difficult – very tough. I had four children by four different dads, but none of the relationships lasted. I was a single mum. We were living in Milton Keynes in a three-bedroom council house, but it was a bit rough.”
“I and Dele were always very close when he was younger. He was my little cling-on. He’d always say, ‘Kiss me.’ He loved football and started kicking a ball around as soon as he could walk.”
At the age of nine, Dele Alli moved to Nigeria where he spent a short time in an expensive International School and later moved back to his mum in England.
According to Pulse.ng, Dele had some relationship with Kehinde.
Alli was his father’s best man when Kehinde married his second wife Lola in 2006.
Denise was battling against alcoholism and faced having her children removed by Social Services. So, she handed Dele over to a couple who the footballer now calls his adoptive parents.
As he grew up, his mum’s problems started to multiply, and at the same time, he began to get into troubles at school. As a result, she was reported to the Social Services Department. Denise said: “It was only one visit and Social Services were just doing their job. A handful of girls who had it in for me called the council — I don’t know why. I always looked after my children.”
By the time Dele was 13, Denise had begun to seriously worry he was about to fall in with gangs that were plaguing the Bradwell area of Milton Keynes where they lived.
She agreed he could move six miles away to live in the family home of Alan and Sally Hickford, parents of another young footballer with MK Dons and whom he refers to as his “adoptive parents” although he was never legally adopted by them.
The midfielder’s adoptive dad, Alan runs Dele Alli Promotions, so they stand to make a fortune due to his flying football career.
In the summer of 2016, Dele decided to stop wearing the name “Alli” on his match shirts because he felt no connection with the Alli family name, instead opting for “Dele.”
Alli’s estranged parents made a tearful plea for the England star to let them back into his life. The heartbroken parents revealed their despair at having no part in the superstar’s life and stardom. In an extraordinary interview with Sunday Mirror, Dele’s mum Denise repeatedly breaks down as she tells how she now cries herself to sleep at night over the ordeal. And his father Kehinde, a businessman, tells how the only thing missing in his life is his first-born son, Dele.
Despite splitting when Dele was a child, his parents came together and spoke out in unity in a desperate bid to repair their disjointed relationship with their son. They even opened family albums to reveal happy photos of Dele’s childhood.
“I just do not understand what we have done wrong. “He refuses to speak to me and it feels like he’s been taken from us. But I won’t give up on getting him back.”
Neither of his parents saw him for a few years after he moved to his ‘adopted’ parents – an estrangement which has not only broken their hearts but left them bewildered too. Both 48-year-old Kehinde and 53-year-old Denise have made a series of desperate attempts to see Dele at Tottenham games, at the training ground and even by joining stadium tours.
Denise said, “My son has made it by himself. I am so pleased for him and super-proud of everything he has achieved.”
Alli could have played for Nigeria
Alli would have been eligible to play for Nigeria, but opted for England instead, much to the displeasure of the Super Eagles’ supporters.
The midfielder has represented the Three Lions since 2012, where he made his first appearance for the England Under-17 side.
Since then, he has played for the English national side at all levels and eventually earned his first senior cap against Estonia in October 2016.
John Fashanu chose to play for England instead of Nigeria
Before his first senior call-up, retired Wimbledon striker John Fashanu who chose to represent England despite being of Nigerian descent – tried to convince Alli, who was playing for MK Dons at the time, to play for Nigeria after his own regret at not doing so.
According to SL10.ng, back in 2015, Fashanu said, “I will be speaking to some people at MK Dons to help patch me through to Alli.”
When Fashanu’s parents split up, he was sent to a Barnardo’s care home. When he was five, he and his brother were fostered by Alf and Betty Jackson. It took Fashanu who now lives in Nigeria many years to reconnect with his African roots, but in the end, he finally did.
After his football career, Fashanu saw himself more like a Nigerian than an English man. He said, “We can’t afford to lose such a talented kid to England, it’s better we put up a fight than to let him go, I will do my best to persuade him to switch allegiance.”
It seems Fashanu’s effort did not materialise into any positive outcome, as Alli became one of the Premier League’s top goalscoring midfielders during his time at Tottenham, and scored 14 goals in all competitions to help Spurs to a third-place finish in the 2017-18 campaign.
Alex Iwobi chose Nigeria
Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi could have played for England just like Alli, but he chose Nigeria instead.
Iwobi was born in Lagos before moving to England when he was four-years-old. Iwobi started as a youth international player for England, with whom he won the Victory Shield of 2011. After that, he went on to play for Nigeria and made his senior debut for the Super Eagles on 8 October 2015.
On 7 October 2017, Iwobi scored for Nigeria in a 1–0 win over Zambia to secure the Super Eagles a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The English fans did not bear any grudge or hatred against Iwobi for his decision. So, Nigerians must stop the hostility they felt towards Dele Alli.