TOSIN ADARABIOYO has revealed he loves belting out Adele tunes after teaching himself to play the piano.
And the defender’s imminent return to the Premier League should be music to the ears of England manager Gareth Southgate.
Tosin Adarabioyo is hoping to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s England teamCredit: Jamie McPhilimey
That is not because the Fulham star is a keen pianist but one of the country’s finest centre-halves who is getting better and better.
Tosin, 24, would have almost certainly been in the Three Lions squad this season had it not been for his club’s relegation to the Championship.
It is testament to him that he put his England ambitions on hold for a season to turn in consistently superb performances to help the West Londoners make a rapid return to the top flight.
I met up with Tosin — whose career I have followed for a few years now — and he told me his aim is to try to force his way into the World Cup squad for Qatar.
When he was playing in the Premier League last season, only John Stones and Harry Maguire had better defensive stats than him, out of all English central defenders.
With no disrespect to Fulham, Stones was playing for a Manchester City team who won the title while Maguire was in a Manchester United side that finished in the top four.
You have to wonder what Tosin’s stats would have been had he played for a team competing at the top rather than the bottom of the league.
He told me: “To be up there with Stones and Maguire was amazing, because they are the two England centre-halves right now. Stones is one of the best players in the world.
“I’ve definitely got the quality to be in the England squad. Every player’s concentration has to be on getting to the World Cup this winter — and that’s my goal.
“I knew, because I was playing in the Championship, that it wasn’t going to be possible to get a call-up but it’s definitely possible now.
“My ambition this season had to be just to play every week for Fulham and get them back into the Premier League.”
Huddersfield midfielder Lewis O’Brien last week joined a growing list of Championship players who believes Tosin has been the best defender in the division by some considerable distance.
O’Brien played as a striker when the Terriers beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage and said: “I couldn’t get anywhere near him. He was so quick, so powerful. He just seemed to bypass my whole game and I felt I was just running after him.”
Tosin towers above me and I’m 6ft — and his height, physique and athleticism are all huge assets in his game.
Despite having a good season on a personal level in the top flight, Tosin joined in the collective disappointment of Fulham dropping into the Championship again after just one season.
After getting over that, there was only one thing on his mind — to win the second-tier title, which they can wrap up today with victory over Luton.
The defender said: “I was so frustrated but after I had a break during the summer, I just wanted to help get the club back into the Premier League.
“When Marco Silva took over as manager, he asked me, ‘What should the team’s aim be this season?’ I said, ‘We should look to be champions — and he replied, ‘Yes, definitely’.”
SunSport’s Justin Allen alongside Adarabioyo
The real work now begins on plotting a way to try to stay in the top division.
Next season will be the sixth in a row where Fulham have switched between the two tiers.
I asked Tosin why ultimately did the team fail to stay in the Premier League?
He said: “We weren’t getting the ball into the back of the net when we needed to.
“We’re going to have to see if we can be successful in staying in the Premier League. Most of the squad know more about what is required. We have experienced the feeling of getting relegated and it’s not one we want again.”
Despite spending a season outside the top-flight, Tosin believes he is an even better player now, adding: “I’ve matured as a defender.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes. But I am not the type who dwells on mistakes too long. I just get on with it.
“I remember I made one against Aston Villa last season but you watch the game back and put it right the next time you play.”
Tosin has enjoyed working for Silva, loving his attacking style having come through the ranks at Manchester City.
He said: “He’s added a really good philosophy and we’ve all implemented that into our games.
Next season Adarabioyo will be able to show Premier League fans what he’s made ofCredit: Rex
“I love the football we play but, of course, my main job is to defend first.”
Aleksandar Mitrovic only needs one more goal to equal former Portsmouth striker Guy Whittingham’s 42-goal second-tier record (since the Prem started).
Tosin laughed: “To get 41 goals in a season with two games left, it’s just unheard of!
“As long as we play well in the Premier League I believe he’ll always provide goals. He’s so strong and it’s tough coming up against him in training.”
Tosin, meanwhile, is honing his musical talents at home, revealing: “I’ve been learning piano. Antonee Robinson plays really well. I always wanted to learn and he’s been playing for a while.
“I bought myself a piano and I’ve learned three songs already. I can play Easy On Me by Adele, a bit of Ludovico — who is a classical composer — and a very easy nursery rhyme!
“I can’t read music but have taught myself by watching tutorials on YouTube. It’s nice to learn but I only play to myself at the moment!”
Adarabioyo celebrates making the EFL Championship Team of the SeasonCredit: Rex
A toss up!
WHAT a cracker of a promotion play-off tie in store as Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland go head to head in League One.
The Black Cats have been stuck in the third tier, spending four of their five seasons there since relegation from the Premier League.
Wednesday, meanwhile, under-achieved by only making the play-offs with the squad Darren Moore has at his disposal. Too close to call this one.
CHARLTON’S owner Thomas Sandgaard rang on Saturday night to see if I fancied a beer.
I asked how Addicks had got on as I’d not seen the results. His answer?
“The season ended a few months ago . . . !”
I didn’t bother looking but I’m sure they will do well next season.
Thomas Sandgaard shared a joke with AllenCredit: Alamy
U SHOULD BE PROUD
SUTTON may have been pumped 4-1 by Bradford but they are still in with a shout of making the League Two play-offs.
Couple that with a run to the Papa John’s Trophy final and it’s been a remarkable first season in the EFL.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.