The Spurs midfielder used to watch YouTube clips of the Barcelona legend, while he was also an admirer of the former Liverpool captain
Dele Alli has revealed that former Barcelona midfielder Ronaldinho and ex-Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard were his idols growing up.
The Tottenham star, who joined Spurs from MK Dons back in 2015, has carved out a reputation as one of Europe’s top midfielders and has already made 131 Premier League appearances, scoring 42 goals.
He will have to wait for his first competitive appearance of the 2019-20 campaign, however, with Mauricio Pochettino having confirmed that a hamstring injury will keep him sidelined for the start of the new season.
The 23-year-old is known for his ability in and around the box, as well as his skill on the ball and tricks and flicks, with Alli revealing to Goal and DAZN that he models his game on Barcelona legend Ronaldinho.
When asked who his idols were when he was younger, Alli said: “Ronaldinho. And then Steven Gerrard. I used to watch a lot of YouTube clips of Ronaldinho when I was in school.
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“[I liked] the way he enjoyed playing, he always looked like he was having fun. And that was the way I wanted to play as well. I’ve grown up playing a lot of street football, it was always fun and enjoyable and it was all about tricks and things like that.
“So when I started playing professionally I didn’t want to fall out of love with the game. I wanted to do what made me happy and you could see that with Ronaldinho. In everything he’s done, he looked like he was enjoying it.
“And then Steven Gerrard. His attitude and his mentality – his winning mentality. He was captain for England and Liverpool and you could see how much he wanted to win every game, so I felt like I could relate to both players.”
Alli made his professional debut for League One side MK Dons back in 2012 when he was just 16 and he insists that playing at that level of football at such a young age helped prepare him for the rigours of the Premier League.
He said: “I think it was important when I was younger that I spent a lot of time playing against older players in League One. That prepared me for when I stepped into the Premier League and it built my character and made me stronger – I knew I had to fight for things, that was important.
“I knew it was a big league, the Premier League, and that it was a tough league with a lot of big players. So when I first came in it was important that I showed myself and that I couldn’t be bullied on the pitch – and I was ready for that.”
Spurs kick-off their Premier League campaign with a home clash against Aston Villa on August 10 and they could well have one or two big-name signings to add to their squad before then.
As reported by Goal, the north Londoners have agreed a €70 million (£65m/$78m) deal with Juventus for Paulo Dybala, while the club have emerged as Philippe Coutinho’s only option as Barca seek to offload the Brazilian.