Dele Alli's tribulations will help him reach his Tottenham potential, says Karl Robinson
Last Updated: 19/03/20 3:07pm
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli will be a better footballer because of what he has experienced as a player over the last year, according to his former manager Karl Robinson.
Alli fell down the pecking order in Gareth Southgate's England squad following a slump in form in 2019, before Jose Mourinho's arrival at Spurs.
In February he was charged by the FA with misconduct for a breach of rules in relation to a social media post concerning coronavirus.
Oxford United boss Robinson, who managed a young Alli at MK Dons before his move to Tottenham, says the 23-year-old's tribulations will actually help him reach his full potential.
"Dele was a talented individual and very free with what he did on a football pitch. It was like watching a young player watching five-a-side anywhere across the country," he told Sky Sports News.
"What people don't realise is that he's one of the nicest young people that you will meet. He's a tremendous young man. If you speak to anyone that has worked with him, managed him, they will tell you what a nice person he was.
"He has not reached his potential yet. There is a lot more to come. His age tells you that and the experiences he has gone through over the last year will maybe make him a better player.
"In the short term it might be difficult, but when you know what type of character he is you know he will relish whatever is put in front of him.
"He has a wonderful support mechanism and that is important. The way he goes about his life is the way I think footballers should be.
"The older he gets and the higher up the football pyramid he goes, there's a structure to the game he needs to fall into, that will allow his talent to get to the forefront."
'How Oxford Utd took a lead on mental health'
Oxford manager Robinson set up a culture of openness at the club by introducing mental health workshops for players and staff for all levels from academy to first team.
He revealed how his wife, a Mental Health First Aid instructor, introduced him to the idea.
"My wife brought a [mental health] scheme to me and asked 'do you think your players need to think about this at your football club?'", Robinson said.
"We had a look at a programme and how it could affect our players. I felt there should be somebody in each of our dressing rooms that has a certificate, an ability to understand what mental health is.
"The word scares people and there is a stigma around it. I thought it was important we took the lead. I thought we needed at least 10 people in the building that understood the programme.
"We did it and I think it added an openness, I don't think anyone at my football club would be fearful of speaking. That's the most important thing, making people feel safe.
"It's been successful so far. [Mental health provisions] will become necessary in the workplace.
"Everyone sees [football] as this masculine game - it's not. It's just a game with human beings who all have good days and bad days. We need a better understanding of it."