It would be a huge shame if Dele Alli fails to rediscover the sensational form that turned him into a household name in the first place.
Arguably the most exciting young midfielder in Europe several seasons ago, Dele has struggled with consistency in recent years and many football fans fear he will never fulfil his huge potential.
Now 25, Dele told reporters in the summer that he was intent on getting his career back on track this season following the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo.
“I want to make this year one of the best I have had,” the midfielder, whose last appearance for England was in 2019, said.
“A lot of people have said I need to find the form I was in a few years ago. For me, I don’t even want to get to that, I want to go past that and reach my full potential to be the best player I can be.
“It has been a tough few years but I have been working hard and analysing what I need to do to get better.”
It’s still early in the season but there haven’t been many signs so far to suggest this will be the best campaign of Dele’s career.
Tottenham won their opening three league games of the season but have now suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats against Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
These defeats weren’t solely down to Spurs’ No. 20, of course, but fans could still be forgiven for expecting more from the midfielder during the opening weeks of the new campaign.
When Mourinho called out Dele for being 'lazy' in training
During their time working together, Jose Mourinho was seen voicing his concerns with Dele on a couple of occasions on the brilliant ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham’ Amazon documentary.
Mourinho called the midfielder out during a team meeting for being ‘lazy’ after footage from training was played to the squad.
Pausing the clip, Mourinho said: “Fast ball, fast ball and in the space.
“Okay, I understood already, where’s Dele? I understood already that you are a f***ing lazy guy in training.”
Watch the clip here…
Dele reacted with a smile but Mourinho’s message was crystal clear: lack of effort is unacceptable, whether it’s in a match or in a training session.
Mourinho spoke to Levy about Dele
Mourinho even held discussions with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy about Dele’s effort in training.
"I told already Dele very directly that he doesn't train well, he is not a good trainer,” Mourinho said.
"I am not saying a disaster but I am not saying Harry Kane, Harry Kane is a very good trainer.
"Sir Alex Ferguson gave me only one bit of advice in two and a half years: Buy Dele Alli. 'That guy, with that mentality, the way he plays, the aggression he has in mind. This guy is the Manchester United player. Buy Dele Alli'.
"And he [Ferguson] has an eye for a player. But he [Alli] is not a good trainer, we need to find motivation for the guy."
Mourinho and Dele's honest one-to-one chat
In another scene from the documentary, we saw Mourinho holding a frank one-on-one discussion with Dele, telling him in no uncertain terms that he’ll regret not working harder if he fails to fulfil his potential.
"Maybe, inside, you are telling me to f*** off, but I have to tell you exactly what I see," the revered Portuguese coach told the Englishman.
"I have no doubts about your potential. I saw you do incredible things in incredible matches. But I always felt that you had ups and downs.
"There is a huge difference between a player who has consistency and a player who has moments. That is what makes the difference between a top, top player and a player with top potential.
"It is something to analyse yourself for you to realise why your career has been MK Dons, Tottenham, national team... bang!
"Then, when you reached the top, why do you have these little ups and downs.
"I don't know if it is to do with your lifestyle - if in one period you were an amazing professional but in another period you felt you had become a party boy.
"I have no idea - only you can know that.
"I am 56 now and yesterday I was 20. Time flies.
“One day I think you will regret it if you don't reach what you can reach.
"I am not expecting you to be the man of the match every game. I am not expecting you to score goals every game. I want just to tell you that you will regret it.
"You should demand more from yourself. It should not be me demanding more from you.
"Nobody else. You. You should demand more from yourself."
Let’s hope we see Dele back to his brilliant best before it’s too late.
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