England under-20 World Cup winner Fikayo Tomori believes his time spent with Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of last season was perfect preparation ahead of this summer’s historic tournament win in South Korea.
The defender, who joined the Seagulls on loan from Chelsea in January, reflected on a breathtaking few months for both club and country.
He said, “At the beginning on the season, I was just playing for the [Chelsea] under-23s and wasn't sure if I was going out on loan. To then go up with Brighton and win the World Cup, it’s something I never would have imagined.
“It was very beneficial [the Albion loan spell]. Being part of a promotion-winning side gives you confidence. Even though I didn't play as much as I would have liked to, I still played a part in it.
“It helped me on a footballing level, being around the quality players that Brighton have. It taught me a lot and gave me the chance to carry that into the tournament - which I think I did.
“It’s been a crazy few days and I’ve had a lot of nice messages. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
WORLD CHAMPIONS! UNBELIEVABLE FEELING🏆. THANK YOU GOD🙏🏾❤️. 🦁🦁🦁— Fikayo Tomori (@fikayotomori_) June 11, 2017
England’s World Cup win is only the second in the nation’s history at any age group - following the famous Wembley victory in 1966 - and Tomori commented on a memorable time with Paul Simpson’s under-20 side.
“It was a great experience. It had its ups and downs, but to have a World Cup medal at the end of it is the most important thing. I’m buzzing about the whole experience.
“We knew we had the talent to do it, and it was just a case of executing it. Obviously we had a goal to win it, but we had to take it game by game and that attitude helped us a lot.
“Getting through the group stage was our first goal and then every other game was like a one-off. You had to be good to get through and we seemed to get better throughout the tournament.
“It was our target to grow and get better with each game, then peak for the final. Fortunately it all went to plan, so I’m absolutely delighted.”
GETTT INNN!!! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/1bgiq8hvMj— Fikayo Tomori (@fikayotomori_) June 11, 2017
The 19-year-old was faced with defending England’s 1-0 lead against Venezuela in the closing stages of the final, and he drew similarities in the tournament to Albion’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in April.
“The QPR game was quite an intense game, especially in the last ten minutes when they were putting every ball into the box.
“There were games like that in the World Cup, where we had our backs against the wall and really had to defend for our lives.
“We had to do the dirty side of the game, and the QPR game was very much like that. That certainly helped me and I was able to cope with it when playing for England.”