Fikayo Tomori – Nigerian-born AC Milan defender insists he holds no bad feelings towards sacked Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but admits his demotion at Chelsea which eventually led to his loan exit was particularly tough to take because of the relationship he previously with the former England star.
Tomori was Derby County player of the year under Lampard and was handed his Premier League and Champions League debuts by his ex-coach at Chelsea.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me,” said Tomori. “Maybe because of our history he thought I would accept it, but from my perspective, with that history, it felt more personal and harder to understand.
“I don’t know what happened, it wasn’t really explained to me. Soon after joining Milan, the manager sent me a positive message.
It was an unusual situation – I wasn’t at Chelsea anymore and he wasn’t the manager. With all he had going on, it was a nice thing to take the time to do. I appreciated that. I wouldn’t say there is a bad feeling, it just is what it is. I’ve learned to look forward and I’m stronger for the experience.
“That was a challenging time mentally, but carrying it with me isn’t going to be good for me. I made a promise to myself that now I’m in Milan, the next months or until whenever, I’ve got to be focused on what I’m doing here.
“Everybody would love to live a fairytale, but football and life is not a fairytale. I’m not saying I’m never going to be at Chelsea again. But at this time I’m not a Chelsea player, I’m at Milan and I have to be focused on here and, who knows, I could have a fairytale in Milan.”
Fikayo Tomori revealed to the Telegraph that he wanted a loan exit after he was frozen out of the Chelsea team by Lampard.
AC Milan had been one of the clubs to show an interest in Ijesha boy last summer, along with Everton and West Ham United, during the final hours of the transfer window.
“I was thinking that after the way the previous six months had gone, the best thing for me to do was to go on loan and get some games and come back to Chelsea with a full season in the Premier League behind me,” said Tomori. “I was ready to go and I wasn’t allowed to because the manager said I was in his plans.
“Then, a few hours before the deadline, I got a call saying the manager had said I could go to West Ham and it was a shock because this hadn’t been in the conversation at all.
“I like to think I’m pretty logical and I think things through and, together with my dad and my agent, my plan had been that if Everton didn’t happen, I had to be prepared to stay at Chelsea. By the time the West Ham offer came, it was too late to just switch that mentality with no time to think about it.”
Then the AC Milan call came.
“My agent told me Milan wanted to speak to me and he asked me if I knew who the technical director is,” said Fikayo Tomori “He said it was Paolo Maldini and I was like, ‘Oh’.
“Obviously I wasn’t going to say no, so I said yeah let’s talk for sure. And then we had a scheduled Zoom call and he was just there on the screen in front of me. It was like, ‘Whoa’. He spoke English to me perfectly and it was surreal, it was strange. I got off the call and I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve just spoken to Paolo Maldini’. The only thing I needed to think about was moving to another country, but, other than that, I was sold on it.
“Maldini’s at the training ground every day. After games as well and he will always say, ‘Congratulations, well done’. Even if it’s just a passing comment or a ‘well done’, the fact I’m a defender and it’s come from him, it fills you with pride. It’s like Lionel Messi saying well done to a young attacker. It’s special.”