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Dele Alli says he was picked ahead of higher profile Tottenham players during his first season at the club because Mauricio Pochettino values hard work over reputations.

Spurs bought Alli for £5 million in January 2015 before immediately loaning him back to League One club MK Dons.

After achieving promotion to the Championship, Alli joined up with Tottenham at the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign and slotted straight into the starting line-up.

Pochettino could have decided to loan Alli, a teenager at the time, to a Championship club or a lower Premier League side in order to prepare him better for top-flight football in the future.

But the Argentinian put his faith in Alli from the very beginning, something the 22-year-old believes was down to hard work in training.

“He’ll speak to you about your game, he’ll see it before you see it,” Alli told Steven Gerrard in an interview for BT Sport. (Quotes via the Standard).

“He’ll pull you up on it, that’s one of the main things that I respect and love about him.

“It’s not always positive, he’ll tell you if you’re not working hard enough in training. Training is just as important as games.

“When I signed there, they had players who were brought in for more money but I was playing because he told me I deserved it.

“The togetherness we have as a team, he doesn’t want anyone who will bring a bad vibe or tension. If your attitude is bad, he’ll try and help you sort it out.”

After an inconsistent first half of the season, Alli has started to fire on all cylinders for Spurs in recent weeks – he has now scored 14 goals in all competitions this term.

Had he not been given an immediate chance by Pochettino back in 2015, who knows how his development might have been affected.

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