Fikayo Tomori on Black Lives Matter, Timo Werner and England’s Best Young Ballers

Fikayo Tomori on Black Lives Matter, Timo Werner and England’s Best Young Ballers

The best takes from our debut 'You Know Ball' podcast with The Business School Baresi 🗣️

July 20th 2020

Fikayo Tomori is the first guest of ‘You Know Ball’, a brand new podcast that’s exclusive to VERSUS FC members.

The Dior Desailly chopped it up with the VERSUS team and talked exclusively about Black Lives Matter, Timo Werner moving to Chelsea, England’s best young baller, and lots more.⠀

Every Friday, ‘You Know Ball’ will see the VERSUS team break down the biggest stories in football and the surrounding culture. We’ll go in on the issues that no other platform will talk about.⠀
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Check out some of the best of our conversation with Fikayo Tomori below, and become a VERSUS FC member now to watch ‘YKB’ in full be hitting the link here.

Fikayo Tomori is part of adidas Football’s #READYFORSPORT initiaitve – find out more on the campaign here.

VERSUS: How was your experience in lockdown?

Fikayo Tomori: It was different. To be told you’ve got training at a set time every day and everything flowing and going on as normal to just stop with no real warning period… it was difficult. Having to keep fit, keep yourself in shape, stay at home when you can only go outside for 30 minutes, it was a difficult time. The fact everyone was going through the same thing made it a bit easier though. Talking to other people from other teams and on your own team made it easier too.

A lot of footballers too the time at home to play games with each other and get out running on Strava. What did you make of Ross Barkley’s stats?

Listen, I’m not saying nothing! But yeah had to get the 5k’s in there of course.. I could do a kilometre in under four minutes I think, which I reckon is alright.

What’s your mood been like in the Chelsea camp?

I remember the first few days, everyone was just happy to see each other again. We’re used to seeing each other every day, so from going to that to doing stuff like this when we’re on Zoom calls together catching up and doing gym sessions, it was different. But back playing with your friends and teammates again was great. Getting fit again quickly was tough, but that’s the game. The first phase when we got back there was a lot of safety and social distancing, but once we got back into the tackling again and playing normally, everything felt normal again. Everyone was raring to go again and go strong until the end of the season.

What’s the mood been like in the dressing room about all the new signings like Timo Werner coming in?

Yeah obviously the manager wants to improve the team. Everyone knows how good Timo is – his stats at Leipzig in The Bundesliga are insane – so having someone like that come into the team is great. It adds more competition, which is what we need in the team. The gaffer also played in the early Abramovich era when competition for places was at an all-time high, so having that replicated and on top form is gonna be crucial for us next season.

For a defender with social distancing, that must have been interesting. You love challenging for the ball and intercepting… you must have asked yourself, what am I now, a mannequin?

It’s different for everyone. Of course, everyone wants to win the ball back for the team cos when you’re defending and chasing the ball it’s not fun. But I remember when we got back into full contact training… I lifted Billy Gilmour. There was a 50/50, and I still got the scars on my leg… but it was that moment where I was like, “yeah, football is back.”

We called you the “Dior Desailly” in the intro, who have you got in that little drip battle you got going on, you or Tammy? Or anyone else in the dressing room? We’ve seen Ruben do up Burberry campaigns…

Yeah the thing with Rubes… it’s like is that sauce really his? He’s a good looking guy so it works for him naturally. Ross Barkley always has good drip to be fair. Michy’s got a weirder type of style – it’s nice, but I wouldn’t rock it. He wears like slippers and Spongebob hats and stuff like that. I’m more of a black, white, grey type of dresser. Tammy’s got more range, but I know what looks good on me!

Where we’re at today in the world, we’re in an interesting place. Football has joined the conversation and the amplification for Black Lives Matter. The Bundesliga came back first and we saw Jadon Sancho reveal his “Justice For George Floyd” shirt and making a stand there. What were your thoughts on that?

It’s a subject at the moment which is at the forefront of everything. People have their breaking points with issues like this, and George Floyd’s death was that moment. People began asking “why is this happening?” more and more. I know it’s a small minority causing the problems and the majority are campaigning for equality. It’s one thing to see protests in Minneapolis or America, or London, but when football comes back during this time, and you see people like Sancho stand up for the movement as a worldwide figure – as someone people really look up to – it’s a powerful statement.

Everyone in The Premier League has it on the back of their shirts, so again, a lot of people’s heroes will be supporting that message too. It’s sending a message. Those things are making the difference. It can’t just be this period and then we all forget about it. It’s got to be continued. That’s how we’re going to evoke change.

Something that’s really come to light with this is how white people have also taken stock and questioned how they can do more, and change their actions and belied. Brands have also been doing the same thing – adidas calls to action recently was really good to see. What were your thoughts on that?

I think seeing big worldwide brands like adidas make a play on this is a huge thing. So many people wear adidas every day. Having huge organisations challenge existing situations, and saying if you see it, hear it or feel it, we’ll do something about it, is important. Influential people like Sancho and LeBron James – as well as influential brands like adidas – making stands in this respect is only gonna help the movement become successful. They’re helping move people along and change their perceptions.

We’ve spoken before about Raheem Sterling’s influence on and off the pitch, and how he was one of the most vocal, leading players when you were out in Bulgaria. He’s recently spoken up on the need to get more black coaches in the game – do you think he was right to call that out and say the need for that is essential now?

Yeah I think that as you’ve pointed out, black coaches are more scarce than white coaches. I think having even one in The Championship would inspire people behind them to feel like they can do the same thing and follow in their footsteps. We don’t want people thinking “I can’t be a manager because of the colour of my skin”, or “I have to go here, in order to manage here”.

Less loopholes. Everyone should have equal opportunity. It should purely be based on whether you’ve got the right mindset, the right tactics, the right direction, drive, motivation about you as a person. That should be paramount.

Who is the best young English baller right now?

How can you ask me that!!! I can give you like 10. I can give you Jadon I can give you Tammy, I can give you Madders, I can give you Trent… oh my days… there’s too many!

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Fikayo Tomori tries to answer the impossible question: who is England’s best young baller right now? 🤣⠀ ⠀ Fikayo Tomori is the first guest of ‘You Know Ball’, a brand new podcast that’s exclusive to VERSUS FC members. The Dior Desailly chops it up with the VERSUS team and talks exclusively about Black Lives Matter, Timo Werner moving to Chelsea, England’s best young baller, and lots more.⠀ ⠀ Every Friday, ‘You Know Ball’ will see the VERSUS team break down the biggest stories in football and the surrounding culture. We’ll go in on the issues that no other platform will talk about.⠀ ⠀ Watch the full episode of ‘You Know Ball’ by joining VERSUS FC now via our link in bio!

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You can tune into our full conversation with Fikayo by joining VERSUS FC. The first 250 VERSUS FC members will receive a special introductory membership rate of £3 per month for ‘Young Baller’, and £6 per month for ‘Certified Bagsman’. Join now and watch ‘YKB’ by hitting the link here.