Dismissal was a lesson says Tottenham’s Dele Alli
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Youngster rallies from Europa League red card
Dele Alli says he has learned from his sending-off against Gent but makes no apologies for his competitive edge and has no intention of taking it out of his game.
The 20-year-old was shown a straight red card for a dangerous shin-high tackle on Brecht Dejaegere during last month’s last-32 Europa League tie at Wembley.
It was not the youngster’s first offence - he missed the final three games of last season after punching West Bromwich Albion’s Claudio Yacob in the stomach.
However, Alli has responded positively after the latest incident, scoring in each of the following four games, including a penalty during Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Southampton – and he is pleased with that reaction.
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“There are so many things to learn from this season for me, and last season as well,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes but it’s just important that you bounce back.
“I felt horrible straight after it but it was important that I put it behind me and made sure I learned from it and I keep improving.
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“I think I’ve definitely calmed down a bit but it’s important, I’m never going to take that [competitiveness] out of my game. I’m never going to say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can – but sometimes things happen and you have to learn from them.
“I’m still young. I’m 20 years old and there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs in football, that’s the way it is. But it’s important if things don’t go my way and things happen, I’ve just to make sure I learn from them and keep improving.
“The manager knows that’s who I am and he knows I’m not going to change, no matter what. We’ve had a few talks and he’s been really supportive. It’s nice to have a manager behind you that trusts you and backs you as much as he does.”
Tottenham went into Sunday’s home game against Southampton without prolific striker Harry Kane, but nonetheless made a dream start and not for the first time recently.
Christian Eriksen’s 14th-minute opener was the fifth time in six matches that Spurs had gone ahead before the 20-minute mark and Alli’s spot-kick, which he won himself, then gave the Lilywhites a 2-0 half-time lead for the second weekend in a row.
Southampton halved the deficit shortly after the break and Tottenham endured a nervy second half, but they held on to secure their fourth successive victory and strengthen their position in the top four on a weekend when Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all dropped points.
“When H (Kane) got injured, he’s a fantastic striker and he’s one of those who can get you a goal from nothing,” said Alli.
“We knew as soon as he got injured that it was important we all stepped up and chipped in with the goals now. He’ll keep supporting us from off the pitch and it’s important we keep on getting the points.
“Our starts have definitely been important. Last season there were some times when we’d fall behind, and even at the start of this season we started a little bit slow.
“The manager’s drilled it into us that we do need to start strong and get ourselves in a good position to carry the game out. It was good to go 2-0 up but anything can happen at 2-0 – you’re not safe – and after they got that goal it was important we saw the game out.
“We made it difficult for ourselves but I think it showed the maturity. When they get that goal and they get the confidence, they can easily push on and get another goal, but I think it was a very mature performance.”
Alli’s latest strike has taken his tally to 18 goals for his club this season, almost doubling the 10 he managed last campaign, and he is feeling like an increasingly important member of the squad, both in the dressing room and on the pitch.
“We’re a young team and it’s important that we all help each other out when we can,” he said. “If something needs to be said then all the boys, we’re not scared to say it and I think that’s the great thing about this team.
“You feel comfortable, you can tell any of the players what you need to tell them and they all take it as a positive.”
Follow @BenPearceSpurs on Twitter and visit facebook.com/BenPearceSpurs.