Milan defender Fikayo Tomori revealed he spoke with Tammy Abraham before he moved to Roma, telling him: ‘Bro this is a good league’. The English defender spoke with The Guardian about his initial experiences in Italy and the differences between Serie A and the Premier League.
On playing in Serie A
“I always saw myself one day living in another country, whether that was for football or just in life. I always wanted to learn a new language. At home, my parents were from Nigeria, so they spoke Yoruba to me, and obviously at school you learn languages, but I came to Italy determined to learn Italian. Even if I was only going to be here on loan six months, I wanted to at least be able to know the present tense.”
On the difference between the leagues
“In England, it’s more like basketball,” says Tomori. “Everything’s end-to-end, there’s more intensity, a lot more happens reactively. In Italy it’s more like American football. It’s like you have ‘plays’. When the ball’s here, I need to be here. When the ball goes, I know I have to be two metres over in that direction, or be looking for this particular player …
“In England it’s very much off the cuff and things happen so fast. You can be attacking one minute and the next the ball’s flipped over your head and you’ve got to run back 30 yards, then you’re back on the attack. Here it’s more like: ‘OK, the ball’s there, where’s my teammate? Where’s the opposition?’ If the ball goes over the top I need to be in a position where I can leave the striker and get there, but if the ball goes into feet I’m in a position to go press.
On speaking with Tammy Abraham
“When he said Roma was on the table, I said: ‘Bro this is a good league’,” recalls Tomori. “I felt like it would develop his game a lot. He has scored a lot of goals this season for Roma, they’re fighting for a Champions League spot. Definitely it’s helped him and definitely I gave him rave reviews about Serie A because I enjoyed myself so much the first six months.”
On life in Italy
“I was speaking to my sister yesterday, and that’s family, she’s known me her whole life. And she said: ‘You just seem a lot calmer, a lot smilier.’ I think that’s probably the way Italy is. Everything is a bit more chilled. In England, everything is so rushed and hustle and bustle. In Italy, everyone’s walking a bit slower. Everything’s just a bit calmer.”
On experiencing racism in Italy
“Obviously that was not a good moment, but all the players helped me to get away from the situation. Everyone knew what was going on. I spoke to the referee and since then everyone’s been very supportive and tried to give me as much support as possible, which was great. The steps to try and stop this is what we need to do next. It was a sad moment for me and Mike as well but the club were very supportive and they gave a reaction to it very quickly.
“You could make a foul, concede a penalty, anything, and by the time you get back in the changing room, you’ve got a thousand messages from nobody. People who make a fake account, people who know they can say this without having any consequences, feel like they’re untouchable, whatever it may be. Social media companies should be able to do more to curtail what’s happening.”
On Milan and the title race
“We’re in a good position but we’re taking it game by game. Hopefully at the end we have something to celebrate, and the manager’s mum can let him rest.”