In the mid-2010s English footballer Dele Alli was tipped to be one of the biggest stars of his generation. He was a key player both for his Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur, and in over 30 international caps for England, and he was a two-time PFA Young Player of the Year. Off the field he exemplified the glamorous, high-profile lifestyle of the rich young athlete.
But his career over the last few years has been anything but stellar, and pundits could only speculate on how things had gone so badly wrong. The rot seemed to begin in 2019 when he fell out with his club manager, and he spent an unsuccessful spell at a club in Turkey before returning to the Premier League with Everton.
Now, in an revealing interview with ex-footballer Gary Neville, the 27-year-old Alli has a spoken publicly for the first time about his history of sexual abuse, adoption, drug addiction and, more recently, recovery.
It is the classic tale of the troubled boy and youth who is ill-prepared for the challenges and temptations of adult life. In a sense, it is a relief to get a better understanding of how and why such a promising career went so dramatically off the rails. And his interview is a brave way to step back into the shoes of the role model he undoubtedly was for many young football fans.