TORONTO, Canada—What could have been.
Speaking with Chelsea Mike’d Up this week, the official podcast of English Premier League side Chelsea FC, Calgary-born defender Fikayo Tomori opened up about his choice to represent ‘The Three Lions’ internationally as opposed to the Canadian men’s national team.
“When it came to making a decision to switch when I was younger, it wasn’t something I took lightly, and it was something I really did think about,” said the Chelsea FC centre-back, who previously represented Canada at the U-20 level. “Even though I had got called up to Canada first and then England called me up, it wasn’t just a switch—like oh yeah, ‘okay I’m going to go to England.’ It was more very thought out, and I thought, you know, maybe this could be the pathway for me here (in Canada).”
Currently valued at $22 million USD according to Transfermarkt, Tomori, 22, left Canada and moved to England with his family as a toddler where he joined the Chelsea academy at the age of eight. However, thanks to annual family visits back to his native land, he still feels a connection to his home country and considers himself to be a Canadian—except for when it comes to football now.
Following loan stints with Derby County, Hull City, and Brighton Hove & Albion, last season he emerged as a valuable member of Frank Lampard’s first-team where he made 22 appearances with the Blues. In fact, he excelled under the club’s newly-appointed head coach so much so that it
cost Canada earned the youngster a call-up to the England national team, where he’d make his debut on Nov. 17, 2019, playing six minutes in a European Qualifying match vs. Kosovo.
“Obviously, England is such a top national team that the competition is what brings out the best in every single person,” said Tomori, who has committed his future to the European side. “And I think that having those kind of aspirations to get to that team where they’re always going to be expected to do well in World Cups, expected to do well in European Championships, having that pressure to do well is something that I think I thrive under.
“The bigger the challenge, the greater the reward I guess.”
Tomori has yet to appear in another game for England since, but is certainly on the national team’s radar moving forward. While he’s content with his decision to pursue a spot with ‘The Three Lions’, he does acknowledge that the opportunity of joining Canada—with the emergence of global stars Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David—looks a lot different now than it does when he had to make a choice.
“Yeah, for sure. When I first joined the Canada youth system, Alphonso was what? 15?” said Tomori, who was 18 or 19 at the time. “... we shared a room and I thought ‘hm, sharing a room with a 15 year old that’s a bit weird,’ but when he got on the pitch and you saw how good he was, and three years later he’s moving to Bayern Munich, that was like ‘wow.’
“I definitely have learned that it’s getting bigger and football’s getting a lot more competitive there, which is good obviously. And obviously, I wish (Canada) all of the best.”