Dele Alli: From England to esports

By Steffan Powell
Newsbeat gaming reporter

Image source, Excel esports

"It's because of my love of games," Dele Alli explains.

The England international is joining UK esports organisation Excel to get to grips with the world of competitive gaming.

Speaking to BBC Sounds gaming podcast, Press X To Continue, he says: "I'm hoping to learn as much as I can from them.

"I'll also bring my knowledge to the table and help the team with what I'm good at."

The Spurs midfielder isn't signing up to compete, admitting: "I wish I was good enough to beat the competition!"

But he says he wants to discover more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on with big esports organisations.

This isn't a full-time gig either, but rather something he'll work on when not training and playing for Tottenham.

"Since I was young I've always played the PlayStation or different consoles, and so I thought this was a great opportunity," he says.

"This is new to me, stepping into the gaming world at this level, so I think it's about learning and moving forward together."

Image source, Excel esports
Image caption,
More from the interview with Dele will feature in BBC Sounds Press X To Continue podcast on 1 December

Dele will be helping Excel's players and teams develop their psychological skills, such as how to deal with pressure, overcoming challenges and bouncing back from setbacks.

He says: "My knowledge of being a competitive athlete is something I think can really benefit Excel's players."

Meanwhile, Excel will be giving him an insight into what it takes to run an international esports organisation.

'Teach me to play'

Dele has showed his love of Fortnite to the world by celebrating his goals with dances inspired by the game.

He says joining forces with an esports team makes perfect sense for him: "I thought about it and felt like the match-up with Excel was the most natural thing and suited both of us."

Although famously passionate about Fortnite - and more recently Call of Duty - Dele says he also wants to learn more about traditional esports titles such as League of Legends.

"I want to know more because it's such a tough game, seeing how much actually goes into it, it's so very complicated," he explains.

"I'm hoping they can teach me to play and hopefully I'll be all right!"

"If you play sport, it's in your nature to want to compete against people.

"With games I think you can have fun and keep that competitive edge at the same time, it's something that so many people are into."

Media caption,
Jaden ‘Wolfiez’ Ashman became the youngest esports player ever to win a million dollars

Teenage Fortnite champion Jaden 'Wolfiez' Ashman competes under the Excel banner, and it also has teams competing at a high level in League of Legends. It is trying to establish itself as one of Britain's leading esports organisations.

Having well-known ambassadors link-up with esports teams is becoming a popular way for the organisations to show how engrained in mainstream popular culture competitive gaming has become.

It's also a way to learn from people who've been successful in a range of different fields from traditional sports to music.

Recently, Youtuber and member of the Sidemen, Vikkstar, became part-owner of Call of Duty team, the London Royal Ravens.

Rapper Not3s is also a brand ambassador for Fnatic.

And although there's no plan for Dele to play competitively for Excel, he jokes that you never know what might happen in future: "Obviously, I wish I was good enough to beat the competition.

"Hopefully one day… one day…"

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