Date: 11th April 2018 at 8:00pm
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I’ve always thought maturity comes with experience, rather than age, and with Dele reaching his 22nd birthday, it does seem like he is making progress with regards to some of the disciplinary issues he has had in the past.

Our no.20 was tackled hard twice early on by Ryan Shawcross against Stoke on Saturday, but he says he successfully resisted the temptation to retaliate:

“I’ve been trying to improve a lot of aspects of my game and I want to keep my head [in those situations]. In the Stoke game, when the first tackle from Shawcross came in, I knew straightaway what he was trying to do.”

“He’s a nice guy but that’s the way he is – he’s an aggressive player. I didn’t want to react to him. I wanted to play my own game and I was really happy with the result.”

It was only back in December when he got into some scrapes against Manchester City so I’m not sure he has mellowed out completely yet, but it’s good to see he is trying to strengthen the mental part of his game further.

He has fought back from the media barrage he received following the international break with some great performances, and it looks to me that his determination to succeed at the top level has won out against the frustration he must have surely felt both from the criticism off the pitch and the provocation on it.

The playmaker may have only just turned 22, but he has played 140 games for us since his arrival in 2015, as well as playing 228 games in total at senior level during his relatively short career.

Despite achieving his highest ever total number of assists (17) in a single season, he has had to play through a period where his game has been greatly scrutinised. In the past, that may have led to some lashing out against opponents like Shawcross, but he looks to be making a concerted effort to avoid such confrontations.

All footballers are human, and Dele shouldn’t be too hard on himself about past indiscretions anyway, but I’m glad that the experience he has gained in the last few years has helped him to really progress, not just technically, but in all aspects of his performance on the field.

The players that become truly great have both emotional intelligence and footballing intelligence, and hopefully our midfielder is well on the way to ensuring he is balancing both sides of that equation.


8 Replies to “Spurs playmaker’s willingness to change is great to see”

  • I’ve never worried about Dele’s temperament long term. It bothers me when he does flicks and gives possession up easily when he should be controlling it and passing it. The diving is a bit of a concern as well. Never been concerned about the temperament though.

    More interested why nobody wants to understand how both Shawcross and Joe Allen kicked lumps out of Spurs for 90 mins and yet both walked off the field at the end of the game without yellow cards. In fact I saw the referee, Graham Scott, take captain Shawcross aside 3 times in the game to get him to calm his players down. Even so, he only gave Stoke 4 yellow cards of which 2 were in injury time. There was probably between 12 and 15 yellow card offences in that game that I counted whilst watching at the Bet 365 stadium. If the referee had applied the laws of the game, that would have meant we’re probably have won by a 2 or 3 goal margin once they had to control their aggression or get sent off. Quite honestly, I can’t applaud Spurs players enough for keeping their heads when the referee decided to ignore all the rules of the game and just do his own thing. Scott needs removing from this level of the game.

  • Good article WH. An indication of his increasing maturity is that he voices his awareness of how he can improve himself. That’s where everyone starts their personal growth.

  • The only problem is he still doesn’t seem to understand that he needs to cut out diving. I’m not going to criticise a referee for not giving a penalty when he knows the player has a history of conning referees.

  • Given the fact that the modern footballer, at the top of his profession and at a very young age can earn such huge amounts of money and can quickly gain such a high profile status, when thrusted into the public arena of top league and International football. And that we can see many of them so obviously seem to relish all this. I think it’s far too easily forgotten or ignored, that they are still just young men. And with the same human concerns, inconsistencies and frailties of us all.

    Not just that they are young men but also it is now a world that almost every single move, action and gesture, both on and off the field of play is being scrutinised over and again by every Tom Dick and Harry with an opinion. And what’s crucial to this, in it’s big difference to the not so distant past, is that it is now instant and direct criticism, that can often be most hateful. And, it’s ongoing and open to us all.

    I often wonder how many of us, at the age of 17,18,19, 20, 21 or even 50, would find such attention and pressure more than just a little overwhelming and difficult to deal with? One minute being a hero to what can be many millions of viewers around the planet (see the Word Cup), to the next minute, being the villain of the piece. And all within the 90 minutes of just the one match.

    Imagine similar instances of these past (World Cup) red card actions of a young Rooney via his Man U team mate Ronaldo, (the real Villain), Beckham’s silly kick-out and, even a mature, highly experienced and never ruffled man of cool Zinedine Zidane and his last ever action on a football pitch in the World cup final? That moment-of-madness head-butt! Imagine any of this happening this summer, in Russia.

    It was bad enough back then, in all of their moments of lost control, the following (over) reactions of the watching world. Let alone now. And with a thousand twitchy fingers ready and waiting to immediately express their anger and angst in no uncertain terms. Via the blogs, forums and Twitter accounts of the highly volatile and extremely opinionated population of armchair pundits around the world. Supporters and even non-supporters all expressing their ‘must-be-said’ thing.

    And, with VAR in action at the coming WC, imagine the vile, unleashed responses to the likes of that Henry hand ball v Ireland, Klinsman’s pathetic diving antics and, dare I mention, Suarez-The-Vampire, munching on the flesh of an unsuspecting Italian… All of this lot and so much more.

    What has Dele done that’s so different, so wrong and so immature by comparison?

    Remember Gazza’s forever crazy antics on and off the pitch? Or, Roy Keanes general air of nastiness and, then openly boasting of it? Maradona’s Hand-of-God? I can readily recall how a stadium full of Spurs fans used to relish it and cheer Klinsmann on with his premeditated mock diving, goal celebrations. And, what about Eric Cantona, the King of the Kung Fu kick?

    The pressure, (forget Jurgen), well it can get to them all.

    Apart from anything we may have loved and/or hated about any of these guys mentioned, is the fact that they all were/are fantastic footballers. Heroes to so many (in spite of their wrongs) and celebrated the world over for their great skills and abilities with a football and their many great and memorable moments of sporting magic.

    Perhaps, that without that naughty little devil dancing, a-prancing and a-ball-juggling away inside all of them, maybe, just maybe, the magic and the majesty they have had and can often show us all, would rarely, if ever really shine through.

    Dele may not be the perceived gentleman and honest to good sportsman that we see as Harry Kane. But, let’s face it, not that many are or ever have been…

    Dele Alli does have a little bit of that old devil called magic in him himself that can, nonetheless, get us all off our feet and applauding.

    However, I still see him as much more a hero than villain. I do hope the world (and North London) will too.

    Anyway, whoever at the tender age of 22 really wants to be seen as mellowing?

  • DMvBB …. That’s a great user name! I bet I can guess which football photo you’ve got hanging up in your place!

  • DMvBB, you took the words right out of my mouth, was about to almost! write the same, we have all forgotten that we were all young once, well the older ones amongst us. That photo it is in my mind and a memory of a game I attended many years ago. Well written post.

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