This article is an extract from the latest issue of Champions Journal which is available to purchase now.
Oluwafikayomi Oluwadamilola Tomori: a big name aiming to get bigger and bigger. “Fik” is what they call him at AC Milan, where the England international has already made himself at home. Relaxed, talkative and ready to joke, he looks properly at ease at Milanello, where he has won over staff and colleagues with a proactive and fun-loving attitude. It helps that he also fits the brief of the kind of footballer that the club is trying to recruit: progressive, young and technically adept.
Italian football boasts a rich tradition of centre-backs – and Tomori’s breathing it first hand at Milanello, with the likes of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi still at the club. As he talks about his roots you can read the London years in his eyes, growing up with one thing on his mind: football. Inspired primarily by his father, he was always hungry to learn from the best, be it watching the Rossoneri lift the trophy in Athens in 2007 or learning from Frank Lampard during his stint at Chelsea.
With more time will come more exploration and knowledge, something the 23-year-old is eager to grasp – just like Italian itself. He understands everything that coach Stefano Pioli says and, challenged to speak the local language, he impressed our interviewing crew with a perfectly structured sentence. “I’m hoping to do this kind of interview in Italian next time,” he calmly says to end the chat. Ready when you are, Fik. The story so far isn’t bad either.
When I was about five or six, I had a few friends who were around my age in southeast London. My mum got all the other mums together and said, “Let’s give these boys something to spend their energy on.” So we went to a local leisure centre and I used to score so many goals. Then I had to move to Kent and the coaches were saying, “He’s good so make sure you put him in a club.” Then I joined my school team, then I ended up playing for Chelsea when I was seven and it’s gone on from there.
Yes. I moved to England before I was one but Canada is part of my story. I used to go back a lot but then football came and I was playing four times a week, so it was difficult. But I’ve got a lot of friends and family there; they keep an eye on what I’m doing and I always get messages. I want to go back; I haven’t had the opportunity but hopefully I can soon.