TOSIN ADARABIOYO will never allow the rave reviews he is receiving at Fulham get to his head.
That is because the defender has a motto – Ego Is The Enemy.
Tosin, 23, has been a revelation since Scott Parker snapped him up from Manchester City in October and will be one of the first names on the team sheet when they host Chelsea on Saturday.
The £2million Fulham paid Manchester City in October is turning out to be the bargain of the season.
Here are some superlatives used by fans to describe his form on social media: “Class”, “Fantastic”, “Faultless”, “A beast”, “Commanding” and, maybe slightly over- enthusiastically “World’s best defender”!
But his calm and mature performances have helped the Cottagers put together a run of just one defeat in their last seven Premier League games.
So what does Tosin make of all the plaudits?
He said: “I’ve just finished reading a good book called Ego Is The Enemy. It’s all about the evils of having a big ego.
“You must never think you’re bigger than you are.
“If you have players who think everything is about them and not put the team first, in football it’ll quickly be to the side’s downfall.
“This can especially happen at clubs that have previously been successful. People can start to grow egos and then struggle to replicate their achievements.
“You can’t rest on your laurels. You must keep humble and working hard to not just maintain but improve your level.”
His performance in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Wednesday was exceptional.
His superb goal-saving tackle to deny Harry Kane was particularly impressive.
It was certainly one he was proud of as he posted an image of his outstretched right boot taking the ball off the England striker on his Twitter page within an hour of the game.
And he wittily wrote “(Copy and paste) Another point” – in reference to Fulham’s fifth consecutive Premier League draw.
Asked how much practice he puts into timing such tackles to perfection and remains so calm under pressure, Adarabioyo is typically modest.
He told me: “It’s just instinct and experience. Other than practicing sliding tackles, it’s not something I prepare.
“It’s my style of play. That’s how I enjoy playing football.
“I would say the calmness is more my style of life.
“I’m mature naturally. It’s hard to describe but I’d say I’m very relaxed and don’t get stressed by anything.
“But I prefer talking about the team. People are starting to look at Fulham as a side that can beat anyone.
“We’re starting to get the respect we deserve.”
He is not wrong there. The West Londoners lost seven of their opening nine Premier League matches – but since Scott Parker switched to a back three of Tosin, Joachim Andersen and Ola Aina they have been rock solid.
In their five straight draws – a run that included points against Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton – they have kept two clean sheets and only conceded three goals.
And Tosin said: “Since we went to a back three, everyone seems to know what they’re doing and we’ve got players in the right positions to show their strengths.”
But he knows Fulham must start turning draws into wins.
Bobby Reid is their top scorer with four while Ademola Lookman, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ivan Cavaleiro only have two apiece.
And Tosin said: “To beat Leicester, draw against Liverpool and Tottenham, shows how good a side we are.
“We all know we can beat any team but must be more clinical up top – and I don’t just mean strikers. All of us need to chip in more.”
And the Fulham ace is critical of his own lack of goals – even though he is a defender.
Tosin scored three goals in 33 Championship starts on loan at Blackburn last season – and is yet to net in his 12 Premier League starts this term.
He said: “I need to improve my offensive heading and get more goals from set-pieces.
We all know we can beat any team but must be more clinical up top – and I don’t just mean strikers. All of us need to chip in more.”
“My goal stats were average growing up through the youth ranks at Manchester City.
“But I do find myself getting on the end of a few free-kicks and corners and just haven’t been able to direct them on target.
“It’s something I know I need to work on in training.”
Tosin loves working under Parker, who he says is both “demanding” and “motivational”.
And he added: “He demands the best and is a joy to play for.
“The manager is ambitious. He knows he has a squad of good players and keeps telling us to believe we’re a good side.
“When I go into matches, it’s clear what he requires from me. His preparation and information he passes on is very detailed and that’s a great credit to Scott.”
Tosin had been with City since he was six and captained the under-18s when he was just 14 – but says the decision to leave the club was easy.
Although Pep Guardiola had spoken highly of the defender in the past, he failed to make a single Premier League appearance for the club.
He made two Champions League starts, two in the League Cup and one in the FA Cup.
The Fulham ace explained: “I knew it was time to move on if I wanted to play Premier League football.
“It was enjoyable playing pretty much every game last season at Blackburn and Fulham gave me an opportunity to hopefully continue doing that.”
If he continues in the way he has started at Fulham, it will surely only be a matter of time before England boss Gareth Southgate takes a serious look at him.
Tosin played for all the England age groups up to under-19s.
But he would only say: “I just want to fulfil what I’m capable of – and that’s to be a top player.”
Fulham aim to win their first Premier League London derby since 2008 today.
They ended a run of 13 straight losses against a capital rival in the top flight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
I want to fulfil what I’m capable of – and that’s to be a top player.”
Tosin said: “We set out our stall to win at Tottenham but, on reflection, it was a good point when you consider we only knew we were playing them on Monday.
“I didn’t know about that London derby record but it’s something we can build on by beating Chelsea.”
TV pundit Jamie Carragher may well be eating his words at the end of season.
He said earlier in the campaign he was “more certain of anything in his life” that Fulham would be relegated?
The Fulham ace said: “Well, I have full belief we’ll have a successful season so let's see who is proven right.”
My money is on Tosin.
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