Heung Min Son, Tottenham’s new captain, has revealed how he and his team-mates are looking after their old friend Dele Alli.
The former Spurs and England midfielder, who has had his much-publicised problems since leaving for Everton two seasons ago, watched Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Manchester United on Saturday, sitting in the stands with his former team-mate Eric Dier, and left with Son, after spending an hour or so catching up with his old mates in the dressing room.
Last month Dele gave an emotional interview to Gary Neville in which he revealed he was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, and had recently gone into rehabilitation to deal with an addiction to sleeping tablets.
But he looked happy again on Saturday, especially after Tottenham’s stirring victory, and said: “It’s good to be back and I enjoyed watching that.”
He later left the stadium with Son, who said: “Dele has always been close as a friend. It was a really tough moment for him and I’m always there to support him because he’s one of my closest friends. Our relationship is very special.
“He helped me a lot settling down in the UK when I was struggling. He was helping me a lot and it’s always good to see him. Anytime he needs anything, in a second I will be there for him. We will always support him.”
Dele said he was a month or two away from a return to action with Everton after hip surgery, and Son added: “Obviously it’s up to him now because he has to recover well, get fit and play well. His quality is not in doubt because he has been showing in the Premier League what he can do. Look, I’m always supporting him, like a member of family.”
Son said there also is a real sense of unity under new manager Ange Postecoglou. “Everyone is sticking really tight together, which is very important.
“People are talking about how we play. It’s good, we are enjoying it, having a good time, but it’s only the second game of the season. We want to stay calm, with our feet on the ground so we can still improve.
“The manager was very happy about the performance, but he still wants us to adapt and improve, so we are not celebrating too much about this result because there’s so many games ahead. It’s very enjoyable, playing attacking football.”
Supporters have already taken to the Aussie, and Son says the players have too.
“He’s very hungry about improving the players, the way we play. We as players have to listen because if you want to be a better team, you have to think about improvement, not just being happy with these results.
“We also have to take responsibility to make his job easier, because he gives information to us, which is very good and he is close to the players.”