Burgeoning Tottenham star Dele Alli’s rise to the top is all the more impressive when you realise the childhood he had to endure.
Alli’s mother, Denise, gave her son to another couple when he was 13 years old, because she thought it was best for him.
As a teenager, Alli was allowed to live full-time with his friend and fellow footballer, Harry Hickford, and his parents Alan and Sally. Alli, whose family home was in the Bradwell area of Milton Keynes, moved to the more affluent area of Cosgrove to stay with the Hickfords.
Denise Alli, who has four children, was struggling with a drink problem, and was concerned her son would fall in with local gangs at the time. She also talked of a visit from social services, who visited her home after Dele got into trouble at school.
Denise told The Sun on Sunday: “I had to let him go to give him a better future.
“Emotionally, it was heartbreaking but it was the right thing to do. I had a serious drink problem triggered by my unhappy childhood. I was hooked on vodka, beer — anything — for a few years.
“Social Services visited me after complaints from my neighbours about how I
was raising my children but my kids were never taken away.
“It was my decision to let Dele live with another family.
“I knew that was the only way he could fulfil his dream of becoming a
“It was tough to give up my son but it proved to be his salvation. I’m so
thankful for how things have turned out.”
Although Alli was never formally adopted, but he considers Alan and Sally his adoptive parents. And although Denise is no longer in contact with Sally, Dele hasn’t cut ties with the woman who gave him up.
Denise said in 2016: “Perhaps deep down I felt some resentment towards Sally for
bringing up my son.
“I’m still close to Dele. He’s helped me and his sisters financially and has
lots of love to give. He’s a great son.
“He’s probably given us £4,000 over the past year or so.
“I got £600 this Christmas and the three children £500 each. Last year he gave
me £200, the girls £80 each and his brother a TV and Xbox.
“He gave me £170 for Mother’s Day and helps me out with £50 here and there
towards bills. I’d never ask him for a penny. He just offers to sort us out.
“He never discusses his salary but I heard it was £25,000 a week. Good on him.”
Alli’s Nigerian father, Kenny, has separated from Denise and now lives in Texas.
“We have always had a good relationship and I’m his dad,” he said.
“I saw Dele during my trip to England last year and we often text and chat on
the phone. I’m very proud of my son.”