Joe Hart has defended England team-mate Dele Alli after he was caught making an obscene gesture on camera during Monday’s win over Slovakia – but is glad it did not happen at the World Cup.
Tottenham midfielder Alli was shown making a middle-finger gesture which both he and England boss Gareth Southgate later claimed was aimed in jest at Kyle Walker.
The Three Lions won 2-1 at Wembley to move closer to securing their place at next summer’s World Cup in Russia as goals from Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford turned the game around in favour of Southgate’s men.
Early suggestions were that Alli was aiming the gesture towards the referee after a coming together with former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel.
After the game the England manager was asked about Alli’s gesture, which came with 13 minutes remaining, and said it was “mucking about” with close friend and former Spurs colleague Walker.
Alli later took to Twitter to explain, writing: “Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker! Apologies for any offence caused! Great win 2nite.”
Hart also supported Alli after the 21-year-old came under fire on social media following the broadcast of his actions.
“The world is watching and Dele appreciates that,” the England goalkeeper said.
“He is a young expressive guy who is trying to get to the peak of his game and sometimes he is going to do things that not everyone is going to agree with.
“I think we all know what has gone on – no one has got hurt from it, let’s be honest.
“Luckily and hopefully it was after 9pm and after the watershed. Kids are watching, Dele appreciates that. I’m sure it will be dealt with in the right way.”
Hart, currently on loan at West Ham from Manchester City, believes that such actions can also be the by-product of those individuals who play with passion.
Asked if it was better Alli learns from such examples now rather than on the grand stage of a World Cup, Hart replied: “Yes, but it’s a tough one in football because not everyone is the same character.
“Sometimes the best players, the most expressive players have got something about them. Obviously you want to angle it and you want to get the best out of them.
“Sometimes you have to deal with situations, but if that’s the worst thing that’s going to come out of the game, we are doing pretty well as a squad.”
Despite his explanation as to why he swore on the pitch, Alli could yet face ramifications from FIFA.
Press Association Sport has contacted the world governing body for an initial assessment of the situation.
Alli’s action came with England 2-1 ahead after Slovakia had taken a shock third-minute lead, with Rashford guilty of losing possession on the edge of his own penalty area.
Alli’s Spurs team-mate Dier levelled from a Rashford corner ahead of half-time before the Manchester United man completed a man-of-the-match display by scoring a driven winner to secure the three points.
England now need just two points from their remaining two qualifiers to assure themselves of a place in Russia.
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