Demarai Gray: I want to emulate Dele Alli

The Leicester City winger tells FFT about his ambition of following in the footsteps of Dele Alli, his toughest opponent and the training drills that keep him super-fit

Hi Demarai, who’s the toughest defender you’ve faced in the Premier League so far?

Kyle Walker. I faced him twice in my first two games, but I thought I did quite well. It was good for me to play against him straight away because I then knew the standard of defender I would be up against in the Premier League. He’s a very athletic full-back who’s tough to play against and it helped teach me how to adapt my game against different players. You know you’re not going to beat those players every time because they’re quick and strong, so you have to play off them a bit. But whoever I go up against I go into it with 100% confidence thinking I can be the better man in the duel. 

More after the break

 

You said in a previous interview that you wanted to score more goals - has anyone given you any advice on improving this side of your game? 

Sometimes in training when I get into certain positions the manager will encourage me to shoot as soon as I cut inside. He uses Riyad Mahrez as an example and says ‘look how many goals he’s scored from doing that.’ When you shoot earlier the keeper isn’t set. I’ve also just got to make sure I’m in the right place at the right time, which makes all the difference. 

You have to make a lot of repeated sprints during games - do you do any sprint work in training to work on this? 

It’s more long-distance endurance runs to be honest. My game is played at 100mph when I get the ball because I like to run at players and attack, but after you do that you have to recover. A session we do quite a lot is something called four fours. You do four-minute runs, followed by two minutes rest, repeated four times.

 

You made a lot of appearances as a substitute last season - what advice would you give to a young player hoping to make an impact from the bench?

You need to be confident and try to get yourself involved in the game straight away. Also try and be professional and manage the game – I think a few times at the start I tried to come on and beat players when I should have passed it, and that meant giving the ball away. Make yourself comfortable and when it’s the right time to express yourself make sure you do it. The manager wants to see that and be able to trust you coming off the bench. 

You've represented England at Under-21 level - playing for the senior side must be an ambition of yours?

You can just see what Dele Alli has done, transforming his whole game. That’s also a confidence boost for me to see how he’s done, so hopefully I can have a similar impact to him. The England manager is always watching. 

 

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