Dele Alli opens up to Soccer AM's Tubes about his first memories, first heroes, first tears, and Mauricio Pochettino's wind-up when he was first called up for England.
Ahead of Derby Day on Super Sunday, with Tottenham going to Arsenal at 2.05pm on Sky Sports Premier League, the Spurs midfielder revealed his footballing firsts, including a fascinating insight into Pochettino's lighter side.
He reveals his first footballing hero, why he can't thank Karl Robinson enough for his input, and how he ended up in Tottenham's Wembley changing room in tears...
My first memory of playing football was outside my old house in Milton Keynes, in the car park. I wasn't always first pick in the playground because not everyone liked me! You know in school when they think you might be quite selfish, you don't pass them the ball. My team would always win. I remember one time I asked some kids to play and they said no because I was too good!
Steven Gerrard. I think [because of] his passion, he was a leader on the pitch, captain of Liverpool and England, you could see how much it meant to him. His ability too, he would always score in big games, at crucial times, and amazing goals.
Adidas F50 I think. It was the first pair I remember buying, but I'd had boots before. I remember I bought them and I had one size six, and one size nine, because the shop messed up. On my way to a game I realised. I wore them, and I actually scored with the big one. I was size six. I had one flipper, a lot of six. I scored a tap in!
Against Cambridge City in the FA Cup. The ball came out of the halfway line, let's say, and I hit it top corner! Haha, no, it was 25 yards out maybe.
Karl Robinson. He was good, helped me a lot at that stage of my career, to prepare myself to go to the Premier League. He put a lot of trust in me, threw me in at the deep end, but obviously it worked out well and I can't thank him enough!
At Tottenham, the first time I cried was after I got sent off in the Europa League [against Gent], in the changing room. You feel you've let the whole team down, and we went out of the competition in that game, so it wasn't a nice place.
It was with Roy [Hodgson], I remember I was away with Tottenham at Monaco, and the gaffer pulled me and started speaking to me, and I knew internationals were coming up. He asked me if I wanted to go away and play with the Under 17s for England. I thought I was too old anyway. And I said: "I don't think I can… I'm too old now."
He said: "No, we spoke to them, you can go, they want you to go over next week." I said: "Oh, OK."
Then he like stared at me for 10 seconds, and then told me I'd been called up to the first team! It was more of a test than a wind-up, he wanted to see my reaction! He's a proper nice guy.
On a Friday at MK you'd do a five vs five game at the end, and the winning team would choose a player on the losing team who they thought was the worst player in training that day, and give a reason why. My team won, in one of my first training sessions, and I nominated Darren Potter, because I nutmegged him. They told me they were going to break my legs! But they were joking, obviously.
Dele Alli was speaking to Soccer AM at the launch of his new clothing line Leo Fortis
Watch Arsenal vs Tottenham on Sky Sports Premier League at 2.05pm on Super Sunday