Fikayo Tomori from Milan: ‘It was sweet for all of us. We knew we could do it ‘ England

Fikayo Tomori was warned. How Milan chased their first Serie A title since 2011, the one player in the squad who was part of it then spoke. It was Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “He was like,‘ Guys, if we win, be prepared because it’s going crazy, ’” Tomori says.

Even so, it is doubtful if anything could have prepared Tomori and his teammates for the reaction to what they had achieved the day before Sunday, receiving the result they needed at Sassuolo. deliver on the 19th of Milan Scudetto. And certainly not for the scenes during the open bus parade the next night.

Reports vary, but some have claimed that there were as many as a million fans in celebration, slowing the bus to a crawl as it sailed to Piazza Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, the club’s headquarters. Red flames burned; the outpouring of emotion was extraordinary.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before – so many people,” Tomori says. “It was a three-, four-, five-kilometer ride, but it took hours. Seeing everyone on the street … I can’t really describe it. ”

Few thought that Milan would be able to overtake their city rivals, Internazionale – not with such a young, starless squad (Ibrahimovic aside) and certainly not with the inexperienced back four that the manager, Stefano Pioli, trusted. Tomori, 24, was partnered at the center by Pierre Kalulu, 21. The defenders were Davide Calabria, 25, and Theo Hernández, 24.

You gain nothing with children and not at Milan, where the shirt is so heavy. But they would end up with the division’s co-best defensive record. During the match they conceded twice in 11 matches.

“No one expected us to do it,” Tomori says. “So when we did, it felt even better – kind of proving that people were wrong, it was sweet for all of us. We knew we could do it.”

What a season it was for Tomori after his £ 25 million move from Chelsea; he was on loan in Milan for the second half of the previous campaign. He’s one of the first names on Pioli’s team sheet, his speed helping ease a high line; his aggression and anticipation stand out as his concentration and tactical awareness improved.

Fikayo Tomori in action for England in Andorra last October.
Fikayo Tomori in action for England in Andorra last October. Photo: Quality Sports Images / Getty Images,

The cherry on top? His England recall for the League of Nations, the first of which is against Hungary in Budapest on Saturday. The third of the four is against Italy at Molineux next Saturday. Tomori was previously selected by Gareth Southgate last October when he won his second cap as a substitute in the 5-0 away win over Andorra. His debut came in November 2019 as a substitute in the 4-0 victory in Kosovo.

It was a surprise in some parts when Tomori was overlooked for the March program, but his time is felt, with this the penultimate meeting before the World Cup starts in Qatar on 21 November. He is essentially a replacement for Tyrone Mings and his competition for the final squad is likely to come from Conor Coady, Marc Guéhi and Ben White.

“If I’m not called, I don’t think,‘ Ah, what’s going on? ’” Tomori says. “I did not panic [in March], I just focused on my presentations and helped Milan. But from there, if I’m called, it’s to make sure I take the steps to stay here. “

Tomori loves the Italian view of defense as an art form and he enjoys Pioli’s attention to detail, as well as the occasional chat with Paolo Maldini, the Milan technical director. “I saw [Franco] Baresi after the last game, which was great, “Tomori says.” You see different legends just flying.

“As they are as defenders [in Italy] – I wouldn’t say it’s personal but it is: ‘I have to make sure that what I do is on the money and no one passes me by.’ They have that pride. There are a few things the manager will tell me – make sure you’re blocking a race or not allowing it to happen or contact in the box.

“Looking [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini … they’re very street-wise, you take things. The referees whistle a lot more so you can’t get in or, if you do, you have to deal correctly. You make sure you stay on your feet and in the right position so that you can regain the ball and not give up. “

Tomori’s mind goes back to a different scene of celebration outside the Duomo last summer, though he could not embrace it. He followed England’s Euro 2020 leagues in London, taking in the quarterfinal victory over Ukraine of Shoreditch Boxpark. But he was back in Milan for the final, looking at a hotel like England lost on penalties to Italy after a 1-1 draw.

Fikayo Tomori deals with Lautaro Martinez de Inter
Fikayo Tomori says he enjoys the sight of defense in Italy. Photo: Alberto Lingria / Reuters

“When they equalized, I had a face and didn’t want to look too low,” Tomori says. “But as the punishments went on, it was hard to watch. I was near the House and, somehow, it was nice to see them celebrating. I was right in the middle of it.

“But I really couldn’t get out fast enough. I felt like it was England as we progress; it was madness. Then I saw Italy celebrate after the final and it’s definitely an incentive for me. “

Italy will not go to the World Cup after their final loss to Northern Macedonia in March. Tomori’s command of Italian is impressive and he explains that “Macedonia” translates into his new language as “fruit salad”, which led to a typically close to the bony situation in the dressing room involving his Milanese teammates Sandro Tonali and Alessandro Florenzi. , who were both part of the defeated Italian squad.

“Tonali and Florenzi were there so people brought Macedonia [fruit salad] to the gym, “Tomori says.” The newspapers were like, ‘Oh.’ But the people said, ‘Well, we lost because of a fruit salad.’

It was taken as a joke but it was weird. They just didn’t expect to lose. ”

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