LONDON (AP) — With Wayne Rooney retired from international soccer, it seems that England has another hot-headed No. 10 to fill the void.
Near the end of England’s 2-1 win over Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier on Monday, Dele Alli appeared to make an obscene gesture toward French referee Clement Turpin after not being awarded a free kick for being blocked off by a defender.
England manager Gareth Southgate was made aware of the furor surrounding the gesture, but suggested it was not aimed at the referee but Alli’s teammate, Kyle Walker.
“Dele and Kyle were messing about and Dele has made a gesture towards Kyle,” Southgate said. “They have a strange way of communicating … but as I say, I have not seen the incident.”
That explanation may not wash with the authorities.
Tottenham’s 21-year-old attacking midfielder has a history of on-field misbehavior and is known to hit out if he is targeted by opposition players.
At the end of the 2015-16 Premier League season, Alli was given a retrospective three-match ban for punching Claudio Yacob in the stomach during Tottenham’s match against West Bromwich Albion. It meant Alli missed the season run-in, damaging Tottenham’s pursuit of eventual champion Leicester.
That season, he was accused of stamping on Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye during a Premier League game and, a few weeks later, Alli appeared to kick out at Fiorentina defender Nenad Tomovic during a Europa League game in an incident missed by officials.
He will miss the first three games of Tottenham’s Champions League group-stage campaign as he is serving a three-match ban for committing a dangerous tackle that resulted in a red card against Gent in last season’s Europa League.
Alli is one of the Premier League’s brightest young players and most prolific midfielders, and is set to have a long international career ahead of him. He currently fills the playmaker role behind striker Harry Kane that used to be filled by Rooney, who announced his retirement from England duty last month.
Southgate was keen to not let the late incident involving Alli, which came just before he was substituted, cloud England’s win.
“It probably detracts from what has been his best…