Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he found Dele Alli’s emotional interview discussing his childhood trauma “too painful” to watch and plans to meet his former player when Chelsea’s pre-season tour to the United States is over.
Alli spoke last week for the first time about how he was sexually abused at the age of six and sold drugs aged eight in a traumatic upbringing that eventually led him to enter rehab earlier this summer.
The 27-year-old joined Tottenham in 2015 from Milton Keynes Dons and spent four years thriving under Pochettino before the Argentine coach was sacked as Spurs boss in November 2019.
Alli has struggled to reproduce his best form since Pochettino departed, falling out of favour at Tottenham before joining Everton and spending last season on loan at Turkish side Besiktas.
And speaking exclusively to ESPN, Pochettino said: “Of course, it was really tough for me to see him. I didn’t finish the interview because it was so painful. He knows how we [Pochettino and his coaching staff] love him, how important he is for us as a person.
“Like a player, he was amazing but like a person he has a big, big heart. And of course, we are in contact. After the USA tour I hope to see him in London, to meet him and give him a big hug.
“Always, it is tough when you love a person but they show in an interview like this, it is really, really painful. But he is a strong, unbelievable guy and for sure he will become stronger.”
Chelsea landed in North Carolina on Monday night ahead of the first of five pre-season games in the U.S., Wednesday’s friendly against Wrexham at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill.