Fikayo Tomori spoke at length to il Corriere della Sera, discussing England, Milan and playing the PlayStation.
Milan used their option to buy out Tomori from Chelsea after his impressive six-months on loan at the club.
The 24-year-old sat down for an interview with Carlos Passerini of il Corriere della Sera which you can read here:
“Racism is everywhere. Italy or England makes no difference, what matters is how we fight it: with culture and education. Football can send very important messages, but courage is needed.”
Courage like the one that Tomori has shown since his first day at Milan. Born in Canada to Nigerian parents and brought up in England, Fik – as everyone calls him at Milanello – is a young man who, both on and off the pitch, is not afraid to say what he thinks; not even when the topic inevitably makes him suffer a bit.
We can only start from the Wembley final. You were not there, but you’ve already made your debut with the English national team. From the outside, what did you think? What happened?
“What happened is that we took the lead immediately, after two minutes, and the situation was positive. But I think we got tired as the match went on and Italy got stronger. England did a great European Championship, they came close to winning it. Unfortunately they didn’t succeed, but Italy deserved it.”
Too convinced of winning, perhaps?
“I don’t think so. We were playing at home, unfortunately we were unable to exploit this advantage. But in a final anything can happen, it’s different from the rest of the competition. When it comes to penalties, it’s clear that it’s all about luck. We didn’t have it.”
How do you start over from a defeat like that?
“We have to continue like this. Reaching the final was a great objective. Now we’re talking about the World Cup. We need to have the same mentality and use the experience we have accumulated to grow further. The team is very young, the World Cup is in one year, each player will have time to improve and prepare.”
Will you be there?
“I hope so, it’s my objective. All the players would like to participate in the World Cup, it would be a dream for me. Milan is a huge opportunity, I’m focusing on this and I feel good.”
In recent days, English police has arrested some of the ‘fans’ – let’s call them that – who hurled racist insults at players who missed the penalties…
“There is a need for a cultural change. It’s a minority of people who live on social media. If you play a game and you miss a penalty then inevitably they fill you with insults, but it’s unfair and I think everyone agrees that there is a need to do something, there is a need for a change. It has to start from the young guys, from the youngest.”
Is Italy a racist country?
“Even here we talk about minorities. The problem is that many people don’t know other cultures and therefore are afraid of them. We live in a multicultural world, you can see it both in Milano and in London. We need to improve, starting with education, so that everyone knows what racism is and why it must be fought.”
How do you judge your experience at Milan so far?
“Great. Everyone welcomed me here very well from the first day. Great club, exceptional facilities. There is everything to grow and to win. A dream.”
Is the goal this season to qualify for the Champions League again or is it right to aim higher?
“Nothing is impossible, you always play to win. We are a young team, we are growing but the second place last season says that we are on the right path. We have to continue like this, step by step.”
Milan strongly believes in you. They made a major investment to buy you from Chelsea, €27m. A figure that burdens you or fires you up?
“No burden, it’s a great satisfaction to feel this trust around me. Everyone is helping me. I understood immediately: Milan is the right place for me.”
What is your relationship with Kjær and Romagnoli?
“Two great Champions. They are helping me a lot in my personal growth. On the field but also off it. Romagnoli is the Captain, he speaks English to me on the pitch and this helps me. I have a very good ‘feeling’ with him and with Kjær.”
And with Pioli? What are you learning from the coach?
“He teaches me the secrets and the details. How he wants me to play in his system, with the rest of the team. He was a defender, he teaches me a lot about how to defend, about the position to have on the pitch… I have a great relationship with him.”
Speaking of defenders: there is also a certain Maldini…
“Sometimes it still doesn’t seem real when I talk to him, knowing the career he had. An absolute myth, a football legend. Paolo is one of those people who can really help you, give you incredible advice. I’m trying to take as much as I can from him.”
Chapter Ibrahimović. He says you are all his children. How important is he in the locker room?
“A true leader, capable of bringing out the best in you even with just a word, a look. A Champion.”
“Terry, who I have admired since I was a child when I was in the Chelsea Academy. Then I’d say Sergio Ramos, but also Van Dijk. And all the strong ones…”
Speaking of Chelsea, what can you tell us about Giroud?
“A very nice person as well as a great striker. He has immense experience, he’s helped in great teams, always scoring a love and above all winning a lot. He will help us.”
You’ve never played at San Siro with a crowd. It could happen in September: how are you expecting it?
“I cannot wait. It’s a magnificent stadium even when empty, who knows how it will be completely full… I imagine the crazy firing up.”
Your teammates say that you don’t play PlayStation because you’re always studying…
“It was true before. I didn’t have much time to play on the PlayStation. Now I do: I’ve finished studying, I’ve graduated in Business Administration. Now I’m just focused on sports. At the end of my career I would like to become a director in football. Of course, after retirement I would also like to become a father and have a nice family. We’ll see what happens in the future. Now, however, I’m only thinking about Milan: it’s my great opportunity and I won’t waste it.”