By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Steven Gerrard has highlighted the five Dele Alli qualities that have impressed him the most during the Tottenham star’s breakthrough season.
The England and Liverpool icon is a huge admirer of Alli, who has been a pivotal player in Tottenham’s unexpected Premier League title challenge.
The 19-year-old midfielder has also gained prominence across the country for a series of excellent performances early in his England career, most notably in recent friendly wins over Germany and France.
Alli has been compared to Gerrard for his driving midfield displays and ability to produce pieces of skill beyond most players, and the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder singled out the qualities that had caught his notice.
“There is so much to like about how he plays the games,” Gerrard told the Telegraph on Friday. “He has technique and attitude. It’s not just his skill I admire, but his temperament. I like his football arrogance where he absorbs every challenge and gets on the ball as if he belongs on the biggest of stages.
“And I like that touch of nastiness he has – not in a bad way – but where he is not going to be intimidated on the pitch but will bully opponents rather than let himself be bullied.”
Alli has scored seven Premier League goals in 29 matches from midfield this season, and weighed in with a further nine assists.
Gerrard, 35, can speak from experience as a player who was once an emblem of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ and advised Alli that life as a top-level footballer will now only get tougher.
“Alli has earned all the praise coming his way, particularly after such a mature performance against Germany,” Gerrard added in the Telegraph. “What I would say to him – and this is something he might not realise until later in his career – is keep that mindset as long as you can because playing football is never more enjoyable or less stressful than when you first come to the fore.
“When you make an impact at an early age for club and country it feels like everything is going your way and the whole world is on your side. You wish this feeling could last your whole career.
“You pick up the paper and read a different article every day saying how fantastic you are. Your club and international manager are asked to talk about your qualities every week so you can be presented as an emblem of a bright future.
“Ex-England players such as myself will write columns expressing their admiration and high hopes. You’re walking on air into the training ground, desperate for the next game, craving a chance to go up against the best. I bet Alli is counting the hours before his trip to Anfield on Saturday and the chance to go head-to-head with Jordan Henderson to prove who should be England’s main man in midfield.”
In other Tottenham news, two key players have given the team a boost ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Liverpool.