Daily Mail


PL say no to fans without Covid pass

- By MATT HUGHES Chief Sports Reporter

The Premier League will ask fans not to attend matches unless they have been fully vaccinated or can provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test for the rest of the season, despite the Government abandoning plans to introduce Covid passports for mass events.

Clubs will continue to employ Covid marshals at games to carry out spot-checks of supporters’ Covid certificat­ion, and those without the required credential­s may be barred from entering the stadium.

Some clubs are understood to have already ejected fans who were unable to demonstrat­e

Fikayo Tomori did as advised and reported a couple of hours earlier than normal. Even so, he found the crowds assembling in the streets outside milanello, with their giant flags, glowing flares and loud hailers.

manager Stefano Pioli and his team lined up to hear the roar of the Curva Sud ultras before boarding the team bus for the drive to Bergamo, to face atalanta in the final game of the season.

The bus rolled through the gates, out of the training complex, engulfed by plumes of red smoke and escorted by fans holding flares, windows rattling from the din, just in case any players were in the slightest doubt what it meant to secure a return to the Champions League.

‘motivating,’ smiles Tomori with a hint of understate­ment. ‘Different to anything i’ve seen in England. it was made clear from the moment i got here that we wanted to be back in the Champions League. Everyone knew it was really important.

‘aC milan hadn’t been in the Champions League for seven years. The team were in a good position and it went down to the last day, away from home against a strong atalanta side. Now, here we are.’

and it is some start, at Liverpool tomorrow, two clubs who share 13 European Cups between them.

milan beat atalanta 2-0, ending last season with 13 points from five games to finish as runners-up in Serie a, their best finish for nine years. Tomori, who joined on loan from Chelsea in January, became an instant hit with the rossoneri for his pace and courage at the back, not to mention a vital goal in a 3-0 win at Juventus.

it was their first success at Juve’s new stadium and the 23-year-old, raised in Gravesend, became the first Englishman to score for milan since David Beckham. ‘i saw that stat,’ Tomori tells Sportsmail. ‘it’s nice to see the famous players who have played here. When you walk into Casa milan, where the museum is, you see how many titles and trophies they’ve won.

‘Here at the training ground, you see photograph­s of those players lifting the Champions League and the Scudetto. There’s a sense of history everywhere. Walk around and you know you’re in a place drawn to success.’

Tomori required little encouragem­ent to make his move from Chelsea permanent for £24million in June. ‘The only question was did they want me,’ he says, modestly. ‘Coming off the back of last season, i felt very comfortabl­e here. Everyone made me feel welcome and happy. i was enjoying my football and felt like i was learning. most important, i was given an opportunit­y. The club trusted me to be on the pitch and that was so important.

‘When i knew milan wanted me, i was pretty much there. To be given the chance to be part of this historic club, to play in the Champions League after helping them qualify, and to have that connection with the club, the manager and my team-mates, it felt really good. i feel at home here.’

He may live alone, 600 miles from friends and family, but he has settled smoothly into the rhythms of milan. ‘Life’s a bit slower and more chilled than in England, the kind of life i enjoy. The weather is better. People go for coffee after training, just chill and sit in the sun.’

His language skills are developing. ‘it’s going well,’ he nods. ‘italian is the language of the pitch and i can understand everything.’

and he studies hard with the masters in the art of defending. ‘i’m trying to improve. England is a very fast league, situations happen fast and you have to react.

‘in italy, you are luring your opposition into specific positions where you know you can defend it well. That’s a big difference. it wasn’t something i was used to at first. ‘italians are famed for their defensive structure. it’s coached differentl­y here. it’s about positionin­g or reading where the ball is going, when to follow the striker, when to let the striker go, knowing if i go here then someone else has to go there, making sure all the cogs work together.

‘it’s an enjoyable environmen­t and there’s a lot of people to help. The manager was a centre back. We’ve got Paolo maldini at the club, the best defender of all time!’

Pioli has restored milan’s selfesteem and, despite losing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, has a progressiv­e team, sprinkled with experience, including Zlatan ibrahimovi­c. The totemic Swede, soon 40, scored on his return after four months out with a knee injury in a 2-0 win against Lazio on Sunday, as Pioli’s team made it nine points from three games.

‘He’s all about winning,’ says Tomori, fresh from a foot-golf victory in a team with Zlatan and Brahim Diaz, on loan from real madrid. ‘Even in foot-golf, he’s telling us, “We can’t lose, we can’t lose”, and we won! Whether we’re playing mini games or 11-v-11 in training, he wants to win and lets everyone know.

‘you don’t want to be on Zlatan’s team and not pull your weight because there’s going to be trou

This fixture has a lot of history — I prefer the 2007 version!

ble! He’s such a big personalit­y, his presence raises everyone’s game.’

There is also a thread of Chelsea running through milan. Tiemoue Bakayoko has returned on loan and olivier Giroud joined in July. Giroud scored twice on his debut against Cagliari and is back training after a positive Covid test.

He expects more goals from Giroud and goals from Tammy abraham, a friend after many years together at Chelsea, who followed him to Serie a this summer with a £34m move to roma.

‘He asked me about life in italy and what i thought about the league,’ says Tomori. ‘i said, “i was here for six months and i signed permanentl­y, that should tell you a lot”.

‘i’m now telling him to learn italian. He wants to go with the flow and see how much he can pick up, and i’m telling him to get a teacher! He’s enjoying it and he’s started really well. Tammy is a goalscorer, he will score, just hopefully not against milan.’

Tomori knows when the pals go head to head for the first time, in rome. ‘october 31,’ he grins. Hallowe’en. ‘Hopefully a scary night for him.’

Gareth Southgate has not called on Tomori since November 2019, when he won his only cap against kosovo, but this month the England boss made mention of his fine form for milan. ‘i haven’t had any direct contact,’ says Tomori. ‘if i play well here everything will happen that needs to.’

Strong performanc­es in a Champions League group also featuring atletico madrid and Porto will help. ‘We’re excited,’ says Tomori. ‘Not a lot of teams wanted us in their group. We have a good, young, vibrant squad.’

milan, one of the great names of European football, back where they belong is something they are sure to acknowledg­e in Liverpool after the epic finals of 2005 and 2007. ‘i remember them both well,’ says Tomori, who had just signed for Chelsea in 2005, aged seven.

‘my best friend was a Liverpool fan. He was buzzing for that final in istanbul and when milan went 3-0 up with such a terrific team, i was thinking, “He’s going to be upset at school tomorrow”.

‘The comeback made it such a great final. Disappoint­ing for milan but then 2007, athens, it was revenge. This fixture has a lot of history for both clubs. They prefer the 2007 version in milan and i do, too.’

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Respect: Tomori salutes the Milan fans in Sunday’s win over Lazio
GETTY IMAGES Respect: Tomori salutes the Milan fans in Sunday’s win over Lazio
 ??  ??
 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Foot-golf winners: Tomori (left), Ibrahimovi­c and Diaz
GETTY IMAGES Foot-golf winners: Tomori (left), Ibrahimovi­c and Diaz

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom