Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:23

Fikayo Tomori says international allegiance ‘wasn’t England all the way’

Fikayo Tomori has revealed that he deliberated long and hard before committing his international future to England over Canada or Nigeria.

Choosing which country to represent has not been easy for the Chelsea defender, who is a new face in England’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Canada and Nigeria, who have failed to lure Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham from England, have courted Tomori.

Tomori was born in Canada to Nigerian parents and his family moved to Gravesend when he was baby. The 21-year-old has since represented Canada and England at youth level but he is yet to feature in a competitive international at senior level, meaning his allegiance remains up for grabs.

“It wasn’t England all the way,” Tomori said. “I had certain people and certain things that I had to consider. I spoke to my family and people that I care about and that’s the decision I came to. So when England came calling, it was difficult to say no.

“England is obviously such a big nation, as well as Nigeria and Canada coming up, so I think I was going to be happy with whoever called me up, but it’s nice it is England.”

Tomori, who spent last season on loan at Derby, made his Chelsea debut in August and he admitted he did not expect to be called up by England so soon. “Last season, I wasn’t expecting to be there,” he said, “but I never really put a limit on saying I couldn’t do it … Now to be in the England squad, it’s a mad turnaround.”

Tomori was told by Frank Lampard that he was being called up by England straight after Chelsea’s win over Lille last Wednesday. “I knew a day before and I had to keep it a secret,” Tomori said. “I obviously told my family and then it got announced on Thursday.”

The USA international Christian Pulisic has admitted to being frustrated at not playing more for Chelsea since his £58m move from Borussia Dortmund and has vowed to build on his bright cameo in the 4-1 win over Southampton on Sunday.

Pulisic’s only appearance in September came in the Carabao Cup victory against League Two’s Grimsby and he did not make the bench when Chelsea beat Lille. Pulisic, who came off the bench to create Michy Batshuayi’s goal at Southampton, said his omission against Lille hurt and accepts he has found it hard to adjust to English football.

“Culture-wise, it’s been easier than Germany,” Pulisic said. “Obviously I haven’t been getting as many minutes as I would like. I know my time’s going to come. I’m not just going to throw a fit and give up ever, so if I’m on the bench it doesn’t mean the gaffer doesn’t think I’m a part of the team. I’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Frank Lampard has been protective of Pulisic and regards him as a long-term project. Chelsea’s manager believes it would not benefit anyone to throw the American in before he is ready and has told the former Dortmund winger to keep working hard in training.

However, Pulisic hopes his assist against Southampton has shown he can offer as much as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount, Pedro and Willian in attack. “I want to be starting every game,” Pulisic said. “I’m working hard in training, I want to be there, I hope everyone can see that. With moments like this I hope I can make a case for myself.”

Pulisic said he was not bothered by his price tag and admitted he had noticed external criticism of his performances. “You can’t completely ignore it. I don’t live under a rock. I hear things, I see things, but I do my best to block it out. The outside opinions don’t matter as much to me as to what’s in the team and myself and the people who care about me.”

The Guardian

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