Ex-Dons midfielder wants to see Dele get back to his best again

Dele AlliDele Alli
Dele Alli | Getty Images
Dele's former MK Dons team-mate wants to see the midfielder back to his best again

Former MK Dons midfielder Alan Smith feels Dele Alli needed more of an arm around him when he moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2015.

The ex-England international saw Dele develop from the academy at Stadium MK and start to establish himself as a regular in Karl Robinson's first team. As Smith departed the club in 2014, Dele became Dons' leading man the following year, helping them to promotion from League One before securing his move to the Premier League.

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Smith now runs the XL Academy in USA, a programme intended on providing 'an accelerated educational program that empowers each student to reach his or her highest social and academic potential.'

Dele's recent revelations to Gary Neville on The Overlap revealed mental health issues for the 27-year-old, as well as an addiction to sleeping pills. The Everton midfielder spoke of his complicated and difficult upbringing, something which Smith was made aware of during his time at MK1.

Speaking to BritishGambler.co.uk, Smith said: "You hope that any player can get back when they have had those kinds of struggles. When we were at MK Dons, we were all aware of his background and situation – not the mental health – but the understanding of dynamic with his parents that Karl Robinson and myself were always aware of. He lived with a great family at MK Dons who looked after him so well.

"It’s always difficult when someone gets to a certain age and he left to go to Tottenham and you can’t stay under the guidance of someone so long when you become an adult – we speak about it at the school, whether that’s a little bit younger here when they can start to drive and they have their own freedom, and they start to make their own choices on do they want to go to college and play or do they want to be a professional."

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Alan Smith spent two-and-a-half years at MK Dons, and watch Dele go from the academy into the first-teamAlan Smith spent two-and-a-half years at MK Dons, and watch Dele go from the academy into the first-team
Alan Smith spent two-and-a-half years at MK Dons, and watch Dele go from the academy into the first-team | Getty Images

He continued: "At MK we were such a small-knit community that we could look after him as much as possible as everything was structured, and we knew everything that was going on. As soon as he went to Tottenham he moved in on his own and he became an adult, and it becomes your own choices and your own decisions.

"I think everyone involved in football always hates to see anyone struggling from a mental health aspect, when they’re not enjoying the game or want to give up on the game that he’s naturally so good at. Everybody will have the best wishes for him, and we all want to see him back playing and back to where he was previously when he was probably a regular and a first name on the team-sheet for England.

"You look at Jude Bellingham now, and it was very similar to what Dele was capable of, so everyone has nothing but the best wishes for Dele going forward."

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