It is a mark of Dele Alli’s potential and blossoming self-belief that a dominant performance against the world champions in their home stadium may only prove to be the stepping stone to greater things rather than a case of too much, too young for the England midfielder.
At 19, and still to complete a full Premier League season, the Tottenham youngster walked off the Olympiastadion pitch on Saturday evening with the praise of Lothar Matthaus ringing in his ears after inspiring England to a remarkable 3-2 victory against Germany, having trailed 2-0 with half an hour to play.
Against a midfield of World Cup winners, stellar names such as Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Marco Reus, Alli dominated with his tenacity and drive, challenging his more experience team-mates into greater efforts before, admittedly, spurning the chance to cap a hugely encouraging display by missing a clear opportunity to score in the closing stages.
But after being compared to Bryan Robson ahead of the game by England manager Roy Hodgson, Alli emerged from Berlin as a player in his own right, winning just his fifth cap, with optimism going into Euro 2016 now escalating because of the Spurs midfielder who appears to combine the edge of Robson with Steven Gerrard’s energy and vision and Paul Scholes’s mean streak.
But for Hodgson, watching Alli dominate the stage against Germany was no surprise.
“He was the same against France (in November) as well,” Hodgson said. “His performance in that game was man of the match.
“But if anything has really pleased me here, he was able to come out and do the same again in more difficult circumstances because you could argue that France at home is a little bit less daunting than Germany away.
“At the moment, all you can see with Dele Alli is a very, very bright future. It’s up to him, and his club and he has to make certain that he doesn’t think that I am the complete and finished article.
“You can’t be the complete and finished article at 19 years of age, not if we are talking about winning tournaments, or doing well in major tournaments, you need more need experience and a few more games behind you.
“I’m not trying to detract at all from his performance. The TV people told me Lothar Matthaus said he was the best player on the pitch. That’s some praise indeed.”
Alli’s contribution, allied with that of Spurs team-mates Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Harry Kane, propelled England to a victory which saw them overturn a 2-0 deficit to win for the first time in over 40 years.
Hodgson’s team played with verve and tempo and a refusal to be fazed when Germany built a two-goal lead following goals either side of half-time from Reus and Mario Gomez – the first goal signalling the end of the night for goalkeeper Jack Butland, who suffered an ankle injury.
But the fightback was impressive and a clear warning to the Euro 2016 favourites that England now have a team of young players with the courage to take on a challenge, displaying the fearlessness Hodgson has demanded.
And when Dier’s stoppage time header completed a 3-2 win following earlier goals from Kane and Jamie Vardy, it prompted Hodgson to insist that this was a result which will resonate.
“I think you can take store from this,” Hodgson said. “If you are able to go out here and deliver, then you can’t dismiss it as a one off.
“I would be disappointed if people dismiss it and say Germany were not up for it because we were very close to their bench their players and they found it difficult to deal with our pressing in the first half. That gives us encouragement. We want keep going like that with this team.”