Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori has picked Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as the two most difficult opponents he has faced.
The centre-back, born in Canada to Nigerian parents, has had a breakthrough season at the London club after several loan spells with Brighton, Hull and Derby.
The 22-year-old, who Chelsea manager Frank Lampard signed on loan while he oversaw Derby County, played 21 games for the Blues in all competitions and made his England debut at the end of last year after snubbing his parents’ homeland.
Tomori admits it has been tough adapting to the demands of the Premier League and says Liverpool forwards Firmino and Salah have posed him the greatest test so far. The duo has helped contribute towards 37 goals between them in the Premier League this season.
“It has been different for me this season, just because it is the Premier League and it is a step up,” Tomori told Sky Sports. “You have to be more focused and prepared, always alert.”
He believes in the topflight League things happen a lot faster and mistakes are punished more harshly.
“Firmino was probably the most difficult – along with Salah. Every time they got the ball, I was thinking, ‘this is a challenge but this is where I want to be – this is a chance to prove that I can play at this level’.”
Tomori has completed a business management degree while football is suspended. “When this all came about, I actually had three or four assignments left, so I just thought here’s a chance to focus and get it done, give myself a bit of breathing space,” he added.
With school done, Tomori says he is ‘a bit more bored’.
The talented defender who was also eligible for Nigeria and Canada, made his debut as the Three Lions hammered Kosovo 4-0 in November in the Euro 2022 qualifiers.
Having worked with Lampard at Derby last season, he has Chelsea’s record goal scorer to thank for finally being handed a chance in west London.
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By Mthokozisi Dube