Fikayo Tomori’s involvement for the final six minutes of England’s 4-0 win in Kosovo on Sunday was another milestone moment in the 21 year-old’s young career and he has since spoken of his good fortune at representing the Three Lions for the first time.
The defender has played for England since the Under-19 age group, having initially accepted an invitation to line up for Canada, the country of his birth. He was called up by Gareth Southgate last month following a string of impressive displays at the heart of the Chelsea defence and retained his spot in the squad for last week’s final European Championship qualifiers.
With the qualification campaign coming to a close in the Kosovan capital, Southgate sent Tomori on for his senior England debut and the Chelsea Academy graduate was clearly thankful for the opportunity.
‘I feel very fortunate,’ he said. ‘I’ve been in two camps now and I’m just very grateful. It’s been a lot of hard work, determination and a lot of focus. Hopefully I can make more caps and maintain that focus I’ve shown.’
England’s table-topping performance in qualification has not only ensured their place at next summer’s Euro 2020 finals but means they will play all three group games at Wembley as well. If they advance to the latter stages, the semi-finals and final will also be held at the national stadium in London and Tomori admits that in itself provides plenty of motivation for the players.
‘We know some of the games are going to be at Wembley and for us that’s great,’ he continued. ‘Once we actually get there, then it’s going to really hit us. Obviously it’s a great opportunity and a challenge as well but we’re looking forward to it.
‘I just have to keep on trying to stay focused at club level, continue playing games and playing well, taking the opportunities that are given to me, and hopefully the manager picks me in the summer.’
Tomori became the ninth of the past 21 England debutants to have learned their trade at Chelsea’s Academy and he claimed the recent opportunities that have been afforded to the young players at Stamford Bridge was clearly significant in that.
‘It’s crazy,’ he remarked on the statistic. ‘I’m not too sure how it has happened, we just want to play football. We enjoy playing for the club, we want to keep on improving and obviously the manager has given us a chance to show ourselves in the Champions League and Premier League.
‘When you’re playing well on the biggest stage, the England guys are going to be watching. We’ve just tried to take our opportunities as they’ve come and I’m very happy that all of us have made our debuts.’
The victory in Kosovo also featured a milestone moment for Mason Mount, a team-mate and close friend of Tomori’s who he has grown up alongside. The pair spent last season together out on loan at Derby County so Tomori knows all about the midfielder’s talent, as well as his application and endeavour, and believes his maiden senior international goal will have been greeted by a mixture of delight and relief.
‘Mason has been working so hard,’ added Tomori. ‘He’s had a few caps and he’s come close to scoring a couple of times. I think against Montenegro he had a shot but it got put down as an own goal, so for him to get that goal was a very proud moment for him and I think a bit of a relief as well.’
Tomori talks about his crazy journey over on The 5th Stand app