Tosin Adarabioyo: How the Fulham defender is flourishing in his first Premier League season

Centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo also discusses Fulham's confidence of avoiding relegation, leaving Man City and working under a wide range of managers in his short career so far; Follow Liverpool vs Fulham live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 1pm; kick-off 2pm

tosin adarabioyo

When joining Fulham on a permanent deal in October, Tosin Adarabioyo had the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

The defender arrived from one of the best academies in the country at Manchester City, having spent time with Pep Guardiola's first team. He also had two impressive loan spells at West Brom and Blackburn Rovers in the Sky Bet Championship behind him.

When he joined, Fulham were struggling on their return to the Premier League. They had lost their opening five matches, conceding 12 goals, and only able to score in one game, although it was a 4-3 thriller against Leeds United.

He has since featured in every Premier League match for Fulham. In that time, they have registered eight clean sheets in his 23 games and have only been beaten by a two-goal margin twice - once again his former side, Man City, and top four-chasing Leicester.

Adarabioyo, 23, has also registered some of the best defensive stats among the Fulham team. He has made the highest number of overall clearances (124) and headed clearances (66) and is only second behind centre-back partner Joachim Andersen for aerial duels won (75).

tosin adarabioyo

While the step up from Championship to Premier League is not always easy, Adarabioyo has made an almost seamless transition, which is rooted in his own self-belief.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's game against Liverpool, he said: "I had full belief [to be able to perform in the Premier League]. I know the qualities that I have and I know I'm able to perform in this league and I'm showing that now.

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"I leant from some great players at Man City. They gave me a lot of tips that helped me push on to this day.

"West Brom was a more difficult loan spell but Blackburn was a great platform to show myself and show everybody else what I'm capable of. I gained some confidence and it helped me push on this season.

Tosin Adarabioyo played in some Man City first team matches, but did not feature in the Premier League (credit: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)
Image: Tosin Adarabioyo played in some Man City first-team matches, but did not feature in the Premier League (credit: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

"Although I know it's a difficult time for us as a team and the position that we're in, I feel like everybody in this team is learning and pushing towards staying in this league. We are putting in some great performances at the moment individually and collectively."

Adarabioyo joined Man City's academy at the age of five, progressing through the youth ranks and making a handful of first-team appearances before the inevitable loans followed.

But rather than follow that well-trodden loan path, the defender made the bold choice to leave his boyhood club and join Fulham on a permanent deal and was attracted by the chance to work with Scott Parker.

He explained: "I just knew I had to get out and play regular football and I knew this club was the right place to come to. I came to Fulham because the opportunity to work with the gaffer and his staff was a big positive."

The defender excelled for Blackburn Rovers last season, scoring his first senior goals
Image: The defender excelled for Blackburn Rovers last season, scoring his first senior goals

The former England youth international has experienced a wide range of management styles too in his short career. He has played under the perpetually successful Pep Guardiola, the vast experience of Tony Mowbray, plus two men in the infancy of their managerial careers - Darren Moore and Scott Parker.

"They all have different ideas really," he reflected. "But I think from each manager, I've taken something different.

"Obviously Pep's tactical awareness, I'd say the gaffer here [Scott Parker] has similar ideas and they have similar qualities in each other. Tony Mowbray and Darren Moore had been previous centre-halves and there was a lot to learn from both of them too."

'Fulham can survive relegation'

The chance to work with Scott Parker at Fulham attracted Tosin Adarabioyo to the club
Image: The chance to work with Scott Parker at Fulham attracted Tosin Adarabioyo to the club

For all of Adarabioyo's impressive performances though, there is still the prospect of relegation hanging over Fulham. They remain in 18th place, three points behind Newcastle, but having played a game more.

With 11 matches to play - including Steve Bruce's side on the final day of the season - the stakes could not be higher, but Adarabioyo and Fulham are confident they can beat the drop.

When asked, he said: "Most definitely. I think everybody here has full belief that we're able to survive in this league with the quality that we have and then hopefully push on next season.

"But the focus this year is to survive in the Premier League.

"I think we've been performing very well as a team, pushing ourselves in the right direction hopefully with the right results to push us to just outside the relegation places.

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"We need to keep everybody fit and everybody raring to go. There's 11 games to go and all the games are going to be very important to decide where we finish in this league.

"We're going to need some results to go our way of course because we have some tough games coming up. Obviously we need results in our games too, but we are going to need some results to go our way also."

One of the keys to their success could be Adarabioyo's defensive partnership with Andersen, who also joined Fulham on October 5 on loan from Lyon and has gone on to captain the side.

Adarabioyo said: "We both know what we're here to do. We both know that we need to get the club out of relegation and survive this season so we just put our entire focus on keeping at a good state and trying our best not to concede any goals, which can help us push forward to try and score some goals."

Up next: Facing Liverpool

Fulham and Liverpool drew 1-1 in December
Image: Fulham and Liverpool drew 1-1 in December

Next up for Fulham is a trip to Liverpool on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. The sides drew 1-1 earlier this season and although the champions may have lost their last five Premier League home games, Adarabioyo is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "Liverpool are still the Premier League champions so you've got to respect that. We've got to go out there and put on a show and try to get a performance.

"I feel like we can take a lot of confidence from that game [the reverse fixture in December]. We went out there and played our game, we had lots of opportunities and the game could have gone either way really.

"We were winning 1-0 for quite a while in the game before the end so that can give us a lot of confidence to go to Anfield and try and get a good result.

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"We know how offensive Liverpool are and what a great attack they have so it's just trying out best to nullify them."

While the immediate focus is on Liverpool and Fulham's relegation battle, Adarabioyo is hopeful to be playing at a high level later in his career.

He said: "I'd like to try and get onto the international scene and try and win as many trophies as I can. I'd like to try and get to a club that's in a great place, whether that's being high in the league with this club or another club and playing Champions League football."

At the age of 23, there is still plenty of time for Adarabioyo to continue his good progress and achieve his dreams. But it all begins with helping Fulham escape Premier League relegation.

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