Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli: I’ve learnt a lot about myself this season during dip in form
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England international reflects on the campaign to date and the mentality Spurs had going into their Champions League group of death
Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli says he is his own worst critic and that he has learned a lot about himself as a player and a person as he has fought for consistency this season.
The 21-year-old has won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in each of the last two campaigns, but he has struggled to regularly produce his best form this term and has drawn a blank in his last five matches.
“There’s always positives and negatives in every game,” said Alli. “I’ve learnt a lot so far this season, and in the two years previously.
“Obviously I would like to be at the highest level in every game, every single training session, but I don’t think that’s possible.
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“It’s been an opportunity for me to learn more about myself as a player and as a person. I’ve got to keep enjoying it.
“I’m my own biggest critic. Every time I know when I’m not playing well, when it’s not going well for me, and it’s important that I keep working hard, to learn and improve as a player.
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“It’s important that we never say we’ve reached our standards. We’ve got to keep improving, getting better every season, every training session.”
Alli feels that same positivity and work ethic has helped Tottenham to finish top of a Champions League group including reigning European champions Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund with a game to spare.
“I think it was all down to the mentality we had,” said the midfielder. “We want to be going up against these teams. It’s important as a team and a squad that we didn’t go into [those games] with the mentality that we can [only] compete.
“We have to go in with the mentality that we can win it, and that’s how we’ve approached every game in the Champions League so far. We’ve gone with the mentality that we want to show what we can do, and I think we’ve done that so far.
“It was a very good result at Madrid, away at Dortmund as well. We’ve done well and it can only give us confidence going forward.
“[Beating Real Madrid] was a massive statement. Tottenham’s a big club and, with the players and manager we have here, we want to be testing ourselves against the best in the world.
“The Champions League gives us an opportunity to do that, so we were delighted with the results. It’s important we don’t get carried away with it, but use it as a motivation for the next few games.”
Alli missed the first half of the Champions League group stage due to suspension. So, while Pochettino will rest a number of first-team regulars for Wednesday’s meaningless outing against APOEL at Wembley, Alli will start.
And he is looking forward to it. He said: “There’s no easy game in the Champions League. As a squad, we want to be playing in the Champions League, testing ourselves against the best in Europe. This is another opportunity, we want to win every game.
“Growing up as a kid you want to play in the Champions League. Missing the first three games was horrible for me.
“I can’t thank the manager enough for putting me back into the team in the first game I was back [at home against Real Madrid], and I was happy to repay him with two goals. The team was doing well in the three games before that.
“It was very difficult [to travel to the Bernabeu and not play]. Any player can tell you, when you’re not able to play it’s a horrible feeling. You just want to be out there helping your team as much as you can.
“To play in such a big game would have been nice. Obviously I was suspended but I wanted to go there, help the team and show my support. It was nice to do that but it got me going, raring to go for the next game.”
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