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12th Mar 2017

Those celebrations are harmless – just let Dele Alli have his fun

Why is a young man enjoying himself such a big deal?

Tom Victor

There’s a common line of argument whenever most Premier League footballers engage in a by-the-numbers post-match interview.

“Why are they all so dull?” people ask, amid the usual range of platitudes and awkward banter in front of the cameras.

The same goes for a lot of current and former players’ first forays into punditry, where accusations are thrown around including the phrases ‘boring’ or ‘waste of space’.

But is it any wonder that players are so sanitised when any attempt to display even the slightest bit of originality or (dare we say it) fun is instantly stamped out, often by those same people?

Ian Walton/Getty Images

Dele Alli is one of the most talented and exciting players in English football right now.

He burst onto the scene last season, earning a starting berth at Euro 2016, and has already scored more league goals this season than 14 teams’ top scorers.

He also has two goals in this season’s FA Cup, one in the Champions League and one for England in their World Cup qualifier against Malta.

All from midfield to boot. Oh, and he’s not 21 until April.

But guys…guys…hear us out. He does a special handshake with his teammates and that apparently makes him Very Bad Indeed.

When Alli and Harry Kane performed a carefully orchestrated celebration during Tottenham’s Premier League victory over Everton, the response included a lot of people – and we mean a lot – ignoring the goal that preceded it.

The commentary on the handshake included words like ‘cringey’, ‘stupid’ and ’embarrassing’. Fans called for points deductions, their faces growing redder and redder behind their computer screens as blood vessels burst in tandem with the hand movements from the Spurs duo.

They hadn’t been that angry since the word ‘dab’ first entered their lexicon.

Presumably people would prefer if the players just shook hands simply in silent contemplation, before briskly walking back towards the halfway line and playing the rest of the game without a word. In fact, maybe they should forego scoring altogether.

After all, nothing is worse than a footballer who is good at his job, knows he’s good at his job and has fun while being good at his job. Everyone should be miserable and unfulfilled, then we’d all be happy.

It’s not just Alli’s celebrations which rub people up the wrong way, of course.

You’ve also got Olivier Giroud’s scorpion celebration against Bournemouth.

Or Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard’s friendship at Manchester United.

Or Raheem Sterling buying his mum a house.

Or Memphis Depay going to the shops.

Or Alexis Sanchez having pets who he loves.

Or anyone earnestly enjoying anything ever.

You know, little things.

Footballers are well-paid individuals with a lot of time on their hands – this much is clear.

Some of them use that free time to go out and get drunk, or neglect their fitness by not looking after themselves away from the pitch. Wouldn’t you rather they spent all that free time concocting hugely overelaborate handshakes, which take just a matter of seconds to perform on the pitch.

After all, you wouldn’t even get to see these displays if they weren’t effectively doing the jobs for which they’re paid.

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