Dele Alli has opened up about his recent spell in rehab after struggling with an addiction to sleeping tablets.
The 27-year-old spoke out on a range of painful issues in an eye-opening interview with Gary Neville for The Overlap.
Alli spent last season on loan at Turkish club Besiktas from Everton and returned with an injury which needed surgery.
The England international explains that this was the moment which saw him decide to take action on the bad place he was in with his mental health and checked into rehab.
‘It’s tough to talk about it because it’s quite recent and it’s something I’ve hid for a long time,’ Alli told The Overlap. ‘I’m scared to talk about it but I think it’s the right to do.
‘When I came back from Turkey I found out I needed an operation, I was in a bad place mentally. I decided to go to a modern day rehab facility for mental health.
‘They deal with addiction, mental health and trauma. I felt like it was time for me, with things like that you can’t be told to go there, you have to know and make the decision yourself or it’s not going to work.
‘I was caught in a bad cycle, I was relying on things that were doing me harm. I was waking up every day, winning the fight, going into training and smiling, showing I was happy but inside I was losing the battle. It was time for me to change it.
‘I went there for six weeks and Everton were amazing about it, they supported me 100 per cent and I’m grateful for them forever.
‘For them to be so open and honest and understanding I couldn’t have asked for any more in that time when I was making the biggest decision of my life, something I was scared to do, but I’m happy I’ve done it. I couldn’t have expected to go the way it did.
‘Going into rehab sounds scary, but I could never have imagined how much I’d get from it and how much it would help me mentally because I was in a bad place.’
|Alli shone for Tottenham, winning 37 England caps (Picture: Getty Images)|
The former Tottenham star said that he has chosen to speak out after tabloid newspapers threatening to reveal his visit to rehab in America.
‘I got out three weeks ago,’ he said. I am feeling in a really good place. Maybe I could have done with a little bit more time in terms of when I was talking about it but unfortunately the tabloids found out and was calling my team a lot.
‘The decision I would have made in the past when I didn’t care what people thought or about being understood, I’d have let them write what they wanted to write.
‘But that’s not the reality, also I want to help other people and let them know they’re not alone in the feelings they’ve got and you can talk to people, it doesn’t make you weak to get help. To be vulnerable, there’s a lot of strength in that.’
Alli gave details of the addiction which saw him take the step to go into rehab, becoming hooked on sleeping pills, which he says is a wider problem in football.
‘It’s been going on for a long time without me realizing it, the things I was doing to numb the feelings I had. I didn’t realize I was doing it for that purpose,’ he said.
‘I got addicted to sleeping tablets. It’s probably a problem that not only I have, it’s something that’s going on more than people realize in football.
‘I definitely abused them too much. I would stop sometimes, go a few months without them, but it was really bad at some points. I didn’t understand how bad it was.
‘I was taking a lot, I don’t want to talk about numbers, but it was definitely way too much. There were some scary moments. I wasn’t taking them to sleep, I’d take them throughout the day, sometimes from 11am if I had the day off. I would never take them if I was playing, but just to escape from reality.’