Tottenham’s Dele Alli has been named the PFA Men’s Young Player of the Year 2016.
It is a measure of the remarkable progress made by Dele Alli that it is only a year ago that he was named in the League One Team of the Year.
In just 12 months the Tottenham sensation has become a fixture at White Hart Lane, been named the most valuable teenager in Europe, scored on his full debut for England, scored one of the goals of the season and could cap it all with a Premier League title.
Alli, who is just 20, has turned the debate about producing homegrown talent on its head. Born in Milton Keynes, he joined the youth system at MK Dons aged 11 and broke into the first team five years later, going on to help the club in its promotion season before signing for Spurs.
Fast forward to now and Alli’s creativity and energy are a key part of Tottenham’s title push, one of the reasons Harry Kane has topped the goal charts and is being talked about as England’s creative hub in France this summer.
Alli has made the transition from third tier to the top flight like to the manor born, leading the respected Football Observatory in January to say he would command a fee of £26.5million if he was on the open market.
That is likely to be well above £30m now. Shortly after he was named Europe’s most valuable teenager, he signed a new contract with Tottenham and also scored two spectacular, decisive goals: a chest-trap and volley in the 1-1 draw at Everton on January 3, followed three weeks later by a wonder strike at Crystal Palace, which will be hard to beat. Alli made the football world sit up as he controlled the ball, chipped it over Mile Jedinak and smacked a ferocious volley from the edge of the area past Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal.
That goal, and his general midfield play for Tottenham, have drawn parallels with one of White Hart Lane’s most famous sons, Glenn Hoddle. And it led his club manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to say: “We knew he was a player with unbelievable potential, but I think he shows unbelievable maturity and quality. It’s great to see him play.”