From Dons ball-boy to Dons’ golden boy

Dele Alli completed his hat-trick against Crewe
Dele Alli completed his hat-trick against Crewe

There are very few 18-year-olds who can boast a week that Dele Alli has just had, let alone the future that lies ahead of him.

Saturday’s hat-trick, his second in professional football, completed a different trio - one of celebrations for the midfield sensation taking stadium:mk by storm.

Not satisfied with just a new, long term contract, which he penned on Thursday, Alli went on to claim Young Player of the Month for August on Friday, before bagging three of Dons’ six goals in the demolition of Crewe Alexandra.

He burst onto the scene last season, following an immensely impressive pre-season campaign.

Looking taller, stronger, and simply better, Alli forced his way into Karl Robinson’s plans, disrupting the previously unbreakable Stephen Gleeson/Darren Potter partnership in the centre of the park - a far cry from being the ball-boy at stadium:mk as part of his duties with the academy.

Now a firm member of the starting 11, Alli’s stock has done nothing but rise this season.

His performance against Manchester United won him plaudits outside of the regular League 1 viewers, who actually weren’t too surprised by the way he dominated the game.

It prompted a nervous night on transfer deadline day for his boss Karl Robinson, whose sole intention was to fend off bids for his new talisman.

“I’ve never been so nervous before and I’ve never that tension on a deadline day, knowing there were bids floating around,” said Robinson on Saturday. “He’s just getting better and better.”

Alli’s new contract is ideal for both parties.

For the player, he is now paid what many believe he is worth, and on a long term deal, rewarding his loyalty to his home-town club.

For Dons, the benefits are far bigger. Their hottest talent is now tied into a deal until at least June 2017. With no buy-out clause, his stock can continue to grow without limiting how much the club can demand for his services.

Now thrust into the spotlight, all and sundry are determined to keep the youngsters feet firmly on the ground, from the playful ribbing aimed his way from Antony Kay and Jordan Spence upon seeing his contract news announced on Sky Sports News, to the fans asking him for an autograph and a picture when he goes shopping.

Undoubtedly, his future is a bright one, but if there’s one person more determined to remain grounded, it’s the boy himself.

“Nothing is going to change,” he said. “I’m going to keep giving 100 per cent and we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve still got a lot of improving to do.”