Tomori using Euro 2020 heartbreak as inspiration as England aim for World Cup glory

By Sports Desk June 03, 2022

Fikayo Tomori says being among the celebrations when Italy beat England in the Euro 2020 final is motivating him to play his part as the Three Lions looks to go one better at the World Cup.

Tomori has been called up to England's upcoming Nations League matches, which will include a home clash with Italy – the country in which the defender has impressed since joining Milan last year.

Having starred on loan with the Rossoneri during the second half of the 2020-21 season, Tomori completed a permanent move to San Siro last June, before making 31 Serie A appearances as Milan won their first Scudetto since in 11 years.

Tomori was left out of England's squad for Euro 2020, meaning he was in Milan when Gareth Southgate's team suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Roberto Mancini's Italy last July.

And the former Chelsea defender says he will use that memory as motivation if afforded the opportunity to feature for England in Qatar later this year.

Recalling England's Wembley defeat, Tomori said: "When [Italy] equalised, I had a face on and didn't want to look too down.

"But as the penalties were going on, it was difficult to watch. I was near the Duomo [the cathedral in Milan, where fans celebrated the victory] and, in a way, it was nice to see them celebrating. I was right in the middle of it.

"But really I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I'd felt how it was in England as we advanced, it was madness. Then I saw Italy celebrate after the final and it's definitely a motivation for me.

"I have gone to Italy and seen them celebrate after the final, so I have seen both sides and I have seen how it can really be such a celebration. 

"Imagine how big it would be if we were to win the Euros or the World Cup. Yes, it is definitely a motivation. Every footballer likes to win, but to see how a country reacts to it is something that motivates you."

Tomori also admitted to having taken some pleasure from Italy's failure to qualify for a second successive World Cup, as he recalled a joke played on Milan's Italian players after their play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

"It was a strange one," he said of the Azzurri's defeat. "In Italy, Macedonia is a fruit salad kind of thing. That's what it's called. 

"I remember [Sandro] Tonali and [Alessandro] Florenzi were there, so people brought the Macedonia to the training ground. The newspapers were like 'whoa', but the people were saying 'well, we lost to a fruit salad'. It was taken as a joke, but it was a weird one. They just didn't expect to lose."

Tomori has only won two senior England caps to date, but starred as Milan conceded just eight league goals between the start of 2022 and the end of the Serie A season, keeping 11 clean sheets during that time.

But the defender is not worried by having been overlooked for past squads, saying he has simply focused on his club form and is using the successes of other foreign-based England stars as inspiration. 

"I've seen [Jadon] Sancho, Tammy [Abraham], Jude [Bellingham], players who play abroad, still getting called up, so I wasn't panicking or thinking, 'what’s going to happen if I don’t get called up?' I was just focusing on my own performance and helping Milan as much as possible," he added.

"From there, if I do get called up, once I'm here it's about making sure I take the steps to stay here. That's been my mentality all the way through. 

"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself, getting wound up about not being selected. It was just, 'stay calm, keep doing what I’m doing', and from there hopefully I can get in the squad."

Meanwhile, Tomori is hardly short of defensive role models in his adopted country, and says being around several "streetwise" Italian defenders has helped him develop his own game.

"I saw [Franco] Baresi after the last game, which was cool. You see different legends just flying about," he added.

"The way they are as defenders [in Italy], I wouldn't say it's personal but it's, 'I need to make sure what I'm doing is on the money and no one's getting past me'. They have that pride. There are little things the manager will tell me – make sure that you are blocking a run or that you are not allowing this to happen or making contact in the box.

"Watching [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini, they are very streetwise, you pick up stuff."

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