Last season, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori played at Stamford Bridge in the black and white of Derby County. This season, they are playing at the same stadium regularly in the blue of Chelsea in the Champions League.
The difference in level is incomparable, but the experience – Tomori and Mount claim – was not too much different. Both claim that it was the perfect way to progress their respective careers.
The two enjoyed a relatively successful campaign under Frank Lampard at Derby last season. As it turns out, that season was enough for all three to covert to the Blues this season and become all the better for it.
After arriving at Pride Park from Chelsea at the beginning of last season, Mount and Tomori instantly announced their hero status at the club. Mount scored on the opening day of the season in a 2-1 win at Reading.
‘You’ll never beat Tomori’ rang around Pride Park all season, as too did Mount’s goals and assists. Acknowledging all these moments and not forgetting the Rams during their recent success with the Premier League giants, both players spoke about the importance that the season will have on their long and successful careers.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Tomori started: “You can’t really count it out. You go loan to improve yourself and you hope that when you come back for pre-season that the manager gives you a chance, and we’ve got our chance and we are just all taking it.”
Mount added: “Especially for us two, working under him last season, knowing how he works, knowing how he wants to play, we probably had that little bit of an advantage coming into pre-season.”
The two were asked about their highlight moments in a crazy season that ended in a Championship Play-off Final defeat to Aston Villa. One of which, had to be their penalty-shootout victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
On that, Mount said: “That was probably one of a couple of games, Leeds away as well, that really sticks out. To go up there and win, and we could have won in normal time, they equalised really late. We played so well and that’s one of my best memories of being at Derby.”
Tomori agreed: “We went into the game and we weren’t really nervous. We just went out there with the mentality to play and there weren’t really any nerves. We went to attack the game and it paid off.”
After that win, the Rams were pitted against Tomori and Mount’s permit club Chelsea. Tomori admitted that he thought there was no way Mount or himself would be able to play in that fixture.
He said: “I was very surprised. I was at Hull the year before with Michael Hector and Ola Aina when we got Chelsea in the FA Cup. I was like ‘imagine if we could play’ and the manager just said ‘nah’.
“So, when we got Chelsea with Derby, I told Mason ‘listen, it’s not happening’. We had a day off and the manager (Lampard) came back and said, ‘I’ve been pulling strings for you and you’re allowed to play against Chelsea’. I was more surprised than Mason because in my head it wasn’t going to happen.”
Mount added: “It was mixed emotions because we’d come through the Chelsea academy and never played for them and then we were playing against them at Stamford Bridge. It was a weird feeling.”
In that game, Tomori endured one of his most unfortunate moments in a Derby shirt. He scored an own goal in a 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge which he can only begin to joke about now. He said: “I just tried to get on the right side of the Chelsea fans nice and early! Seriously, though, after that I was thinking ‘this could only happen to me’. As soon as that half-time whistle went, I was thinking ‘did that really just happen?’ It was such a weird one. There was so much going on in my head.”
Derby miss Mount and Tomori so much already. They became such an integral part to the team over a short space of time. Now, they have Kieran Dowell and Matt Clarke who haven’t even come close to the level that they showed last year.
The two will go on to have incredible careers. Tomori and Mount could even go on to become the next John Terry and Frank Lampard respectively. At 21 and 20, the two might be able enjoy 15 years at the cub if they want to and can continue to perform and improve as they’re already doing.