England defender Fikayo Tomori relishing pressure of playing for AC Milan after ‘difficult’ Chelsea spell

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·4-min read
England defender Fikayo Tomori relishing pressure of playing for AC Milan after ‘difficult’ Chelsea spell
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Fikayo Tomori says he has overcome his difficult spell at Chelsea and is relishing the pressure of playing for AC Milan.

The centre-half is back in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary and has a good chance of adding to his solitary cap, with Harry Maguire injured and John Stones yet to feature for Manchester City this season.

Tomori was frozen out by Frank Lampard at Chelsea before joining Milan on an initial loan deal in January and he has continued to impress in the Serie A since completing a permanent transfer from his boyhood club during the summer.

“It was a difficult time [at Chelsea], every footballer wants to play and show themselves on the pitch and when you are not able to that it is difficult,” Tomori said.

“I’ve been able to overcome that and forget about it. I think the reason it is now going so well is that I didn’t dwell on it. It is part of football and part of life.

“I’m really happy and had a good support system with my family and friends. Now I’ve overcome that I want to take it even further and keep progressing.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Everyone in football knows AC Milan and how big a club it is.

“There is a pressure to win, a pressure to perform with so many fans in the stadium and around Milan, you definitely feel the weight of the club, the history of the club so having that pressure to perform and need to win it is definitely a driving force.

“For Milan, it has been a funny time so to be in the Champions League and fighting at the top of the table Serie A, it is a really good time and I’m really enjoying it.

“At the tail end of my time at Chelsea, I wasn’t in the England squad so to go back in after going to Milan then something must have gone right!

“I have been really comfortable and welcome so it goes in tandem, they treat me well and I do what I need to do.

“Hopefully I can continue my form and bring it here as well. My goal is to carry on.”

Tomori’s one and only cap to date came in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo back in November 2019 and some felt he was unlucky to miss out on Gareth Southgate’s squad for the delayed tournament this summer.

It proved a decision of little consequence, with two of the centre-backs in the squad, Ben White and Conor Coady, not featuring at any point, but he is determined to become a fixture as the build-up to the Qatar World Cup in little more than a year’s time ramps up.

“With England, I want to come to the next camp, the next one and the next one and try and stake my claim for the World Cup squad if we get there,” he added.

“Being here [with the England squad] is a chance to impress.

“I want to show myself on the training pitch and if I get a chance to play, to do that. Harry and John played at the Euros, they’ve got a good partnership and I’m here to help the team as much as possible.

“I’ve just got to try and show my talent, what I can do on the pitch and I’m sure everything will happen how it is meant to happen.”

Milan’s technical director is the legendary Paolo Maldini and Tomori revealed he is learning from the former Italy centre-half.

“When he was speaking to me I was like: ‘this is Paulo Maldini’,” Tomori said. “He is at the training ground every day so me, as I defender, I want to impress him.

“Midway through my loan, last season, we had a chat last season and were talking about my game and what I need to improve and he is really engaging and having a legend like that, when he says something you are going to listen.

“It is definitely a nice thing to have him around and he has been a big help.

“There’s definitely things that I have picked up [in Italy], things that are different to when I was in England but that’s all part of the experience, developing and making myself a better defender so I am trying to take in as much stuff as possible.”

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