England and Tottenham star Dele Alli is only 22, but he’s a very superstitious young man.
The midfielder has supposedly been wearing the same pair of shin pads since he was 11 and keeps a small piece of tape stuck on his knee for reasons unrelated to injury. There’s also the eight-minute ice-bath on the eve of every match.
Having represented the Three Lions at the World Cup in Russia this year, Alli returned home with a new lucky charm: a bracelet given to him by a taxi driver in Russia.
The player was travelling from the England camp in Repino to a hospital in St Petersburg for a scan after being subbed off during his nation’s opening game against Tunisia with an apparent thigh strain. After the 45-minute trip in the back of a taxi, he was handed the item for good luck.
“As I got out, the taxi driver gave me a bracelet and said it was good luck,” he explained in an exclusive interview with Standard Sport. The trinket seemed to work as scans revealed that there were no tears; Alli missed two matches but was able to fully participate in the tournament’s knockout round.
“So I’ve kept it,” he revealed. “I don’t wear it but I keep it in my washbag.”
Alli is back on international duty with England, who begin their Uefa Nations League campaign against Spain on Saturday and face Switzerland the following Tuesday.
“It’ll be good to see all of the boys again,” he continued. “Last time after the Euros, you didn’t really want to look into it too much, but we knew we had to talk about the last-16 defeat to Iceland to get over it.
“We had to go through the pain again, open up some wounds and deal with them. This time, there are a lot of positives to take, so it should be fun to look back on. I’m sure it’ll feel completely different, as players now are excited about what is possible.”