England star Dele Alli has said he won’t lose his cool when the World Cup kicks off in Russia.
There have been question marks about the Tottenham midfielder’s temperament in the past, perhaps not surprisingly given his suspension last year after making an obscene gesture during England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
There have also been incidents playing for Tottenham and opponents are likely to try and goad the 22-year-old when the Three Lions are in Russia.
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“I am a big believer that you have to make mistakes to learn from them,” said Alli, when asked about his short fuse. “I feel I learned from the things I’ve done before, but it’s not something I worry about at all.”
Asked if he expected opposition teams to try and wind him up, he said: “That is not going to be a problem. Obviously, I’ve done some things before and people seem to think that will be a problem - but it’s not. I feel I’ve got everything under control.”
England manager Gareth Southgate will no doubt drum into Alli the importance of staying focused as the Spurs playmaker is one of his key assets.
In Saturday’s 2-1 win over Nigeria at Wembley, Alli was one of the Three Lions’ standout performers and he looked comfortable in a midfield that also comprised Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard, the trio linking well with Harry Kane up front.
“The front four, some of the movement and interplay, we looked a threat with plenty of pace,” said Southgate. “Dele and Jesse made unselfish runs.”
Alli said he was pleased with his performance but believes there is still a lot more to come. “My focus is on being the best player I can be, when you expect that from yourself no one can expect more from you,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to get this far but there’s always room for improvement. I’m sure if you asked Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, the two best players in the world, they would say they can improve on something.”
His Tottenham teammate Harry Kane again got on the scoresheet for England - his eighth goal in his last seven international matches - and it means England go into their last warm-up game, on Thursday against Costa Rica, with their tails up.
“It was a good win against a tough side,” said Kane. “l feel at my best. It was great to score - it’s always nice for a striker and now I’m looking forward to the game on Thursday.”
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