Whilst 2016 may well have proven to be the year of the fox, the rise of the fighting cock on the wings of a squad brimming with exceptional young English talent can be deemed to have captured the imagination of many a fan along the way
Whilst the goalscoring heroics of Harry Kane was a spectacle to behold, equally prominent was the rise and rise of the PFA Young Player of the Year, Dele Alli.
Little over twelve months ago, the then 19 year old was mixing it in the third tier of English football – on the verge of completing his move to one of England’s leading teams, as he prepared to complete his pre-arranged transfer to White Hart Lane. Today, Alli stands on the verge representing his nation at one of international football’s elite competitions.
En route to another standout moment in a blossoming career, Alli has well and truly set the Premier League alight with his precocious talent (and occasional moment of ill-temper) bringing some of the season’s most iconic moments.
And Alli’s prodigious rise from League One wonderkid to an integral member of one of the Premier League’s standout teams has led to the midfielder receiving praise most highest from his international manager, Roy Hodgson.
Speaking to the press, he commented: “[Alli] could do anything in that midfield position, I think he can be box-to-box, a number 10, if you like to call it that, or a number six.
“He could be any of them because he has genuine all-round ability. He can challenge, he can run, he can fight for the ball, he can see a pass, he can score a goal.
“You mention Bryan Robson – that’s the player I would like to think he could become.”
Robson won 90 England caps between 1980 and 1991
Despite his appreciation of Alli’s talent, Hodgson has been keen to try and temper the expectations of the 20 year old: “It’s so dangerous, these things, because he’s at the start of his career and we hope it is going to be a very long one, both for Spurs and for England.
“But we believe in him and we think he is good. If I hadn’t have believed in him, I wouldn’t have put in the team tomorrow night because we’re going to go out there and try and win this game.”
Alli has been a real joy to behold this year and whilst Hodgson believes Alli could go on to be a player in the mould of Bryan Robson, his mercurial talent just screams Paul Gascoigne to this observer.
The iconic Gazza alongside teammate Gary Lineker
The graduate of the MK Dons academy brings a magical brand of football that couples elegance, moments of true inspiration and raw athleticism with a fun-loving attitude, offset by an underlying dark side of petulance, that is quickly making him one of the most recognisable characters within the game.
Whilst Roy has been keen to lower the expectations on a burgeoning due to stamp his mark on a maiden international campaign – it was imminently apparent from those first GLORIOUS nutmegs against the Galacticos of Real Madrid that Pochettino and his scouting team had unearthed a true gem with the confidence to mix it on the big stage.
So much of Dele’s temperament and grace on the ball screams of the genius that Gazza once brought to the pitch – let’s hope that our boy can light up the international stage as his predecessor did so effervescently some twenty years ago.
Expect moments like this.
Written by Joe Thomas
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