Dele Alli can be a special player who turns England from also-rans to winners, says former Liverpool and France boss Gerard Houllier.
The Tottenham midfielder has emerged as a vital player for both club and country this season, with his name being linked with a move to Real Madrid on the rumour mill.
Houllier, who played a key role in France’s development into a footballing power in the 1990’s, says the hype is justified, and he could be the player who finally makes the difference for the Three Lions.
“To me, St George’s Park is a great achievement and you will see the benefit of that in five or ten years’ time,” Houllier told the Express. “We opened Clairefontaine in 1988 – we won the World Cup in 1998.
“But to win something you need to have a good team with an outstanding player. France had Zidane when he was playing. We haven’t won since he stopped.
“Portugal, who with all due respect are a good-to-average side that work hard, is well-organised and has a good coach… and have Cristiano Ronaldo. That makes a difference.
“For France, Dimitri Payet was not exceptional enough last summer. Maybe in the future we will have Antoine Griezmann.
“Look at the teams that win. Argentina with Diego Maradona. Portugal with Ronaldo. France with Zidane… you need a player like that.
“Even the Champions League final, Juventus and Real Madrid. Who won? The team that had Ronaldo. It is a collective sport where the individual makes the difference.
“You need to have a top, top outstanding player and Alli can be that for England. He is still young, but he is something special.
“England are on the right track. They are developing proper coaches and proper players at some point it will pay off.
“But it will only pay off if they find that bright spark who makes it all happen.”