-- Dele was speaking as part of charity esports event Gamers Without Borders
-- 25-year-old played in $10million festival’s $1.5million Fortnite tournament
-- Admitted he plays online with a random selection of Premier League stars
-- Wished his best to England for the remainder of their Euro 2020 campaign
July 4: We’ve all been there: joypad in hand, headset on, you and your mates all online ready for some quality gaming.
Then you get paired with a lobby of doom – a rival squad of gamers who you know even before the game starts will wipe the floor with you.
Well, there can be no question that a team consisting of four Premier League icons – including one of its all-time goal-scorers, and arguably its best current midfielder – would strike that kind of fear into anyone.
The worst part? It exists.
Spurs and England midfielder Dele Alli has revealed he often partners with the likes of Manchester City rivals Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne – plus the Citizens all-time leading goal-scorer and new Barcelona signing, Sergio Aguero – to compete as a team online.
Speaking during his weekend appearance in Gamers Without Borders – the $10million charity esports event fundraising for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the world’s most vulnerable nations – Dele explained how gaming online draws him into teams with a pick-n-mix of global football superstars, including some of his biggest Premier League rivals.
He said: “I game with a lot of people, especially on games like Fortnite. It brings a lot of different players together who you wouldn’t expect to play with or expect to play the game. You find yourselves in situations where I’ll end up playing with Kyle Walker from Man City, who’ll be playing with Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, and then we’ll all just end up playing together. I play with a lot of different people.”
Asked who was best of the Premier League bunch, Dele responded: “I was definitely the best when I was in my prime – in the prime of my Fortnite career!”
The 25-year-old was competing in Gamers Without Borders’ $1.5million weekend Fortnite tournament after a challenging season at Tottenham Hotspur.
Asked about the 2020/21 campaign on the nine-week festival’s live stream, he said: “I think I learned a lot. Maybe not so much football-wise, but I learned a lot about myself as a person and as a man. I think that’s a very important thing as a footballer – you want to be the best person you can be. Going through a difficult season made me realise how strong I am, and I’m excited about the next one.
“We obviously just had a change of manager so I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing what he’s about. I’m excited and I’m ready. Hopefully there’s a lot of big things next for me. The Premier League is always tough – there’ll be a lot of new signings but I’m just ready and excited to play and show the world what I can do.”
Speaking about his new club manager Nuno Espírito Santo, Dele said “I haven’t spoken to him yet, but you see what he did at his old club. He did an amazing job there so I’m excited to meet him and speak to him. I’m looking forward to learning some stuff from him.”
The former MK Dons midfielder’s stop-start season under Jose Mourinho at Spurs saw him miss out on selection for England at this summer’s Euros.
However, he showed no hard feelings in throwing his weight behind Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side, who play Denmark on Wednesday for a place in Sunday’s final.
Asked if he had a message for the England squad, Dele said: “Good luck. The whole country’s behind you – make us all proud!”
Dele followed in the footsteps of La Liga megastars and World Cup winning footballers Sergio Ramos and Ronaldinho – plus British World Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, and Manchester United attacking-midfielder Jesse Lingard – in taking part in this year’s Gamers Without Borders, which runs until the beginning of August.
All money raised and donated during Gamers Without Borders will go directly to humanitarian organisations leading COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts in the world’s vulnerable nations: UNICEF, Gavi, Direct Relief, the International Medical Corps and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre.