But last night three of the club's most loyal servants could only shake their heads sadly and condemn the act of 'devilment' that derails Spurs' European hopes for yet another season.
"He could have finished the lad's career it's that bad," former manager Harry Redknapp said. "He could have snapped the lad's leg and that could have been the end of him. A shocking challenge. Absolutely no excuse."
The club's greatest ever player Glenn Hoddle added: "You can't defend that. It's a poor reaction to losing the ball and not getting the foul." And former midfielder Jermaine Jenas added: "It was a shocker, it's a terrible, terrible challenge from Dele. To react in the way he did is not on. He's put his team in a bad situation."
Dele Alli's foul on Brecht Dejaegere just before half-time was frankly despicable.
Irked by the belief he should have been awarded a free-kick himself seconds earlier, he planted the full set of studs on the base of his foot into the shin of his opponent just below the knee.
Tottenham's Europa League campaign came to an end at Wembley
Dele Alli was shown a straight red for a horror challenge on Brecht Dejaegere
It was not a deliberate, contrived act. He had simply miscontrolled the ball and the red mist drove him to make a wholly inappropriate attempt to retrieve the situation.
Remarkably, it was the first red card of his career but is symptomatic of the same lack of control that led to him punching Claudio Yacob of West Brom in an off the ball incident at the end of this season and which Pochettino had hoped he was slowly coaching out of the England international's game.
Instead, the Spurs manager had to martial his remaining 10 men for what eventually proved an impossible task – scoring two goals against a Belgian team eking every advantage from each Tottenham misfortune presented to them.
Yet it had all started so well with the one goal deficit from the Belgian leg cancelled out inside 10 minutes.
Eric Dier's ball down the right wing was hit more in hope than expectation but three Gent defenders clustered around Cristian Eriksen all misjudged it horribly and the Dane was suddenly clear on goal.
Dele Alli's Europa League red card tackle in pictures
Thu, February 23, 2017
Click through the gallery for the best snaps of Dele Alli's horror tackle for Tottenham against Gent
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Click for the first pictures of Dele Alli's horror tackle in the Europa League
Tottenham failed to take their chances against the Belgian outfit
Cool as you like, he paused and then threaded the ball neatly through goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic's legs.
When Harry Kane flicked the ball into the back of the net 10 minutes later, it would normally have removed any lingering doubt. Except the net in question was the wrong one as Tottenham failed to deal with a simple Gent corner with disastrous consequences. Then came Alli's dismissal.
Fair play, on the hour, the impossible looked doable, Victor Wanyama's sweeping shot finally found the back of the net after an age camped around Gent's penalty area and the tie was back in the balance.
But while Tottenham's tails were up it was their lack of cool heads that ultimately let them down.
Gent needed just one chance – the swiftest of breaks and substitute Jeremy Perbert delivered the cruellest of blows on the counter-attack. But for sheer professionalism, it was no more than the Belgians deserved.
Shortly after the final whistle, Eriksen said: "We are very disappointed with what we did today and over two games against Gent.
"They did not have a shot in first half but still got a goal. We gave it away after getting in front. We weren't good enough in our finishing or our final pass. "Overall, we did what we could and even with 10 men we had chances to get the winner.
"We can blame the ref but we had our chances and we weren't good enough." Their biggest problem – and one that continues to haunt them as they search so desperately to add silverware to their potential – is that they simply were not clever enough.
But Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino described him as a "special boy", adding: "He deserved the red card, but now is a time to support him.
"He is very disappointed and sad in the dressing room. In football those situations happen and he made a mistake. He was fouled just before and he is very passionate. He has tried to move on and improve and we must avoid this sort of situation in future."
SPURS (3-4-3): Lloris; Dier (Janssen 89), Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Walker, Wanyama, Dembele (Winks 75), Davies (Son 58); Eriksen, Kane, Alli. Booked: Vertonghen, Walker, Dier, Wanyama, Winks. Sent off: Alli 41. Goal: Eriksen 10, Wanyama 61.
GENT (3-4-3): Kalinic; Gershon, Gigot, Mitrovic; Sayef, Foket, Milicevic (Matton 45), Dejaegere (Verstraete 56); Esiti, Coulibaly, Simon (Perbet 75). Booked: Sayef, Kalinic, Verstraete, Coulibaly. Goal: Kane og 20, Perbert 81.