Two Lions: Why Tammy Abraham & Fikayo Tomori Wholeheartedly Deserve Their England Call-Ups

Please Stand for the National Anthem

God save the Chelsea academy,

Long live Jodi Morris,

God save Vitesse.

Send us victorious,

Tammy and Tomorious,

Long to keep Rashford and Stones out,

God save CFC.


Two Lions in the team,

Frank Lampard still beaming,

Thirty loan spells of hurt,

Never stopped them dreaming.

Hold for applause. Catch flowers. Bow. Leave stage. Encore. Drink it in. Curtains.

Please be seated. 

*Crops out Ross Barkley* Ahh, what a pretty picture.

Thank you for observing the ceremony in good faith. We are here to induct Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

For the first time – at least ahead of a competitive fixture in the case of Tammy – the Chelsea pair will join up with Gareth and co at St George’s Park after breakout starts to the campaign. And aren’t they deserving?

Sure, there was pressure on the England staff to bring them in as soon as possible, given their potential for international alternatives in both Nigeria and Canada, but there can be no doubt that this is based on merit and merit alone. 

And if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe the man who led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. “I don’t think it’s ethically right just to give a player a cap to make sure they can’t play for somebody else,” said [Sir] Gareth Southgate, as quoted by the Evening Standard.

“So, the two boys that are in the squad this time, Fik and Tammy, are in on merit.”

He calls him ‘Fik’, FFS. He loves it.

Despite their respective breakthroughs in the early stages of this season, their introduction to the senior international fold has been a long time coming. 

Abraham, of course, was introduced to the set-up way back in November 2017, getting minutes against heavyweights Brazil and Germany in testing friendlies. Tomori, on the other hand, was a member of the victorious England side at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, and won the 2018 Toulon Tournament alongside his pal Tammy. 

I know I’ve already claimed that 2019/20 has been a breakout season for both, but in truth it was 2018/19, when Abraham notched 25 goals for Aston Villa in the Championship on their way to promotion and Tomori won Derby County’s Player of the Year award – the first time a loanee has done so in the Rams’ history – on their way to the play-off final.

So, in actual fact, rather than a breakthrough season, 2019/20 has been a cementing season, a confirmation of not just their potential and promise, but their Premier League-level talent. 

And now that talent is going global, baby. Alongside fellow recent inductee Mason Mount, Abraham and Tomori have been Chelsea’s standout performers thus far. 

The ascent of the academy has been the story of Frank Lampard’s tenure to this point, and this represents the latest, and as of now greatest, chapter. 

If I can, I’d like to focus on the defender for a moment, because his is probably the more unexpected of the two call-ups, especially if you were to rewind to the start of the season. 

Of course, his path to the first team was handily cleared by Lampard on the final day of the transfer window, when David Luiz was offloaded to Arsenal in an £8m deal – which was, in case you were wondering, the previous winner of the greatest chapter in his short tenure. 

Because, well, what a judgement call. And what a pay-off. The 21-year-old has been the club’s most consistent defender, his technical capabilities there for all to see alongside his raw desire to defend and – perhaps most crucially – his mental resilience. 

It is this trait that sets him apart from international rivals like John Stones. While Tomori cannot yet lay claim to being the ball-player that Stones is, he far exceeds the Manchester City man when it comes to maintaining composure in the aftermath of mistakes.

And, especially in this era, mistakes are part and parcel of the game for a defender. For whatever reason, at 25, Stones still hasn’t come to grips with this. Perhaps Tomori’s resilience is down to his gruelling loan spells up and down the country. Maybe it’s down to the degree in business management that he is currently working towards. 

Whatever it is, it’s worked, and it can only bode well for himself and England. And, as has become customary with good old Gaz and me, the Three Lions gaffer concurs: “I think that his profile as a defender fits with the way that international football is. His athleticism is important, he’s capable on the ball.”

Yes, yes he is. And Abraham’s not bad with a ball at his feet, either, considering he’s the leading English goalscorer in the top division, behind only Sergio Aguero overall.

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And it’s not just the goals. In fact, some of his brightest showings have come when he hasn’t got on the scoresheet; when the bounce of the ball hasn’t gone his way, but he’s still been able to affect the outcome.

Because, having watched the Villa highlights reel, we all knew he could score goals. It was his all-round game, his hold-up play, his link-up play and general physicality that was cause for concern. Clearly, we shouldn’t have worried.


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