Fikayo Tomori has confirmed that he and his new England team-mates have been offered expert support to try to ensure there are no lasting effects from the racist abuse they suffered in Bulgaria last week.
Chelsea defender Tomori was called up to the England squad for the first time for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Bulgaria, and witnessed the shocking racist abuse in Sofia from the substitutes bench.
It was a difficult introduction to senior international football for Tomori, but the 21 year-old is confident that the right provisions are in place for him and the rest of the England squad.
Speaking for the first time since he was part of the England squad that almost abandoned their game against Bulgaria due to racism, Tomori said: “Obviously it was a difficult experience. What we wanted to do was just play our football, to win the game and that’s what we did. When stuff like that happens you have to try and block it out even though it is so blatant.
“We just wanted to go out there, play our game and win the game. The manager spoke to us after and said there was help there if needed. It’s just one of those things that happened.
“The whole set up of the FA and the manager, and the people around us, made it clear that if we need to seek help then we can. We have good staff and team-mates around us to talk to if we need to.”
Tomori’s team-mate Tammy Abraham was also subject to racist abuse from Chelsea supporters this season, while the Blues confirmed on Tuesday that three supporters face bans for racially abusing a fellow fan at a Europa League game in April.
Jerome Bailey, 20, said he was subjected to slurs about his skin and hair during a tie at Slavia Prague. Chelsea have suspended the fans and have written to Bailey apologising for the delay in dealing with the matter.
“Racism, wherever it is, is not a laughing matter and is something that needs to be kicked out of the game,” added Tomori. “It’s a gradual process. It’s not going to stop overnight and we just have to keep on drumming it into people that it’s not acceptable.”
Tomori is one of the group of Chelsea Academy graduates that have drawn comparisons to the Ajax talent factory ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League Group H game between the two clubs.
But Blues head coach Frank Lampard has warned the club are still a long way behind their Dutch hosts in terms of bringing through their own players.
“We've got a long way to go to claim the similarities, but I think we can take pride in the short term,” said Lampard, who is without N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Antonio Rudiger and Pedro in Amsterdam.
“It's great we have a good feeling at the club, in terms of the young players that have come through. But we are at a place here (Ajax) that is steeped in history of bringing young players through and creating great teams with groups of young players.
“We have a long way to go to do that, but in the short term I'm certainly happy and we need to continue working so that they continue their development, the young players.”
Lampard is one of a number of successful former players who have returned to Chelsea in coaching or technical roles, along with, among others, his assistant Jody Morris and technical and performance advisor Petr Cech.
Ajax have a history of bringing back their former stars and Lampard believes ex-players can be beneficial to clubs - providing they have earned their positions.
“I think it is a good model in terms of the fact that with ex-players, you would hope there is a feeling for the club, a feeling from the fans who like to see players who care about their careers at the club,” said Lampard.
“You can try and continue with an idea or an ethos, which is where teams like Ajax and Bayern Munich get it so right because it doesn’t change on short-term results. It tends to stay for the longer term.
“Also with ex-players, it is a great thing for the club but they should be there on merit. I should be manager of this club on merit because I want to work hard, be successful and help improve the club. So should everybody. That’s why Petr Cech has a work ethic to be here and be the best he can be every day. I don’t think just being an ex-player should be a ticket because it should be the best people who can work for Chelsea.”