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Tomori: Amazing experiences

There is no doubt it’s been a whirlwind few months for Fikayo Tomori, the 19-year-old defender who is currently part of the Chelsea squad out in Asia.

As achievements go, winning promotion, becoming a world champion and then being included in Antonio Conte’s travelling party for the trip to China and Singapore, all in such a short space of time, is pretty hard to top for a young, developing player. 

The fact Tomori has featured in all three of our pre-season friendlies so far – the training match against Fulham at Cobham and then Arsenal and Bayern Munich while on tour – has given him even more reason to be full of confidence right now.

‘This team are the Premier League champions so it’s good to be involved in the trip and to have the opportunity to experience a different culture,’ Tomori tells the official Chelsea website, as we sit down to talk at the team hotel in Singapore.

‘I’ve been to Hong Kong before and I’ve just come back from the Under-20 World Cup, which was in South Korea, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Asia recently, but this trip is all about getting ready for the new season.

‘It was a great experience and I enjoyed it because I lined up alongside some great players and against strong opposition,’ he says, when asked how it felt to play in both of the matches we have played on the trip so far, most recently against Bayern Munich last night when he replaced Marcos Alonso.

‘It would have been nice if I’d scored the chance I had in the Arsenal game but it was a great result and it was really nice that the younger players were given a chance to prove themselves as well.’

In each of the three matches Tomori has played this pre-season he has been introduced at right wing-back, and it’s a position he has looked comfortable in, with his natural defensive instincts complimented by the pace and power he provides in the attacking third.

‘I’ve never actually played right wing-back before but I played right-back quite a lot in my earlier years,’ he says.

‘The manager has made me aware of what’s required in the role; where to be, where to run and where to pass the ball, which has made it a lot easier for me. I’m enjoying it and hopefully whenever I get a chance I can make an impression.’

The undoubted highlight of this recent period for Tomori was when he helped England Under-20s win the World Cup in South Korea last month, the young Three Lions securing the trophy courtesy of a 1-0 win over Venezuela in the final.

As the centre-back pairing, Tomori and his Chelsea team-mate Jake Clarke-Salter were integral to England’s success, and it’s an achievement he looks back on with immense pride.

‘It was an amazing experience,’ he recalls. ‘Playing for your country is great and playing in a World Cup is huge. For us to go on and win it was absolutely fantastic. There was a good feeling around the whole tournament and to win it just topped it all off.

‘Myself and Jake were roomies for five weeks as well as centre-back partners. We’ve known each other since we were 10 and it’s helpful on the pitch because we understand how one another plays. We’ve been playing together for a very long time and that certainly made the whole experience easier.

‘On the pitch the players all wanted to work for each other because we were trying to achieve the same goal. There was a great team spirit and after every game we would get into a huddle, so it worked really well for us. It’s a memorable achievement and now I just want to win more trophies.’

Tomori is preparing for the coming campaign in the perfect manner, but it was the way he ended last season that set the tone for the run of success which followed.

The defender joined Brighton & Hove Albion on loan last January and was part of the Seagulls’ team which secured promotion to the Premier League in May, with the experience as a whole one which the player benefited greatly from.

‘Being my first loan it was a new experience because I was on my own and I had to really fight for a place in the team,’ Tomori remembers. ‘Every time I played I felt I did well and the team were going for promotion so it was quite an intense time.

‘Winning matches was all that mattered, the team ended up gaining promotion and for me to be involved in all of that was fantastic. I hope I can experience good times like that again.

‘The manager, Chris Hughton, was really good at talking to the players and doing one-on-one work. He was a defender during his career so that helped me. Everybody at the club made me feel very welcome and it was a great experience.’

For Tomori, who made his Chelsea first team debut in the final game of the 2015/16 season, the trip to Asia has been extremely productive, and with just one game left to play, on Saturday against Inter, his aims are clear.

‘If I get my chance I just have to play as well as I can and do what the manager asks of me,’ he says. ‘I’m on a pre-season tour, I just want to enjoy it and do the best I can.’

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