Saints' Tino Livramento says it's surreal to be in the Premier League

Southampton starlet Tino Livramento went from being a Chelsea academy player to a Premier League regular in six months… and admits it still feels ‘crazy’ to be swapping shirts with the likes of Paul Pogba

  • Full-back signed for Southampton in the summer from Chelsea’s academy
  • Teenager has started every Premier League game for the Saints this season
  • 18-year-old has been a revelation for Southampton so far in his debut season
  • Livramento says he has no regrets on leaving boyhood club for Saints

As he looked back at one of the defining moments in his football journey so far, Tino Livramento can smile about it now.

‘Going into Chelsea when I was around seven for the trial, there were loads of boys there,’ he began.

‘I didn’t actually want to go. I was kind of nervous and didn’t really think that I was good enough to be there. 

Valentino Livramento has been a revelation for Southampton in the Premier League this year

My mum [Caroline] and dad [Louis] were in the car and couldn’t find the training ground and I was thinking “thank God I’m not actually going to do it”. 

‘I was hoping they wouldn’t but then they found it in the end! Got there and I was really nervous. I think I actually started crying because I didn’t want to go in.

‘That’s kind of always been that thing in the back of mind if I’m good enough to do certain things or take that next step in my career.

‘You look back and now it’s a silly, funny story. But if my mum never found the training ground who knows what would have happened?

Livramento left Chelsea’s academy and signed for Southampton in the summer

The London-born defender penned a five-year deal with the Saints which will expire in 2026

‘I wouldn’t have been thankful then but I’m thankful now that she did.’

So too are Southampton who are now benefiting from the exciting talent that Livramento has become.

A second story about the day he discovered he was being offered his first professional contract also left Livramento grinning.

‘My dad told me he was having a meeting [at Chelsea] and I couldn’t figure out if it was good or bad during training,’ he said.

Having come through Chelsea’s academy, Livramento left his boyhood club in the summer

‘I remember getting back in the car after, he told me [the decision] and we just looked at each other and both just started laughing.

‘It’s nice to look back on moments like that when you were very young, you’ve worked so hard and sacrificed a lot at young ages, leaving schools, leaving friends you grew up with and something like that was a huge moment for me.’

Following his rapid ascent, Livramento is now sharing similar priceless moments with his father Louis after Premier League matches.

Livramento said: ‘You walk off the pitch, swapping shirts with Paul Pogba and you walk over to the coach and are looking at your dad in the eyes thinking “this is just weird.”

The Southampton defender has made an instant impact in the Premier League for his new club

‘His support has really helped me and it’s been nice to share this experience with him because I don’t know if he would have thought this would have happened.’

Louis is a big reason why it has as a hugely influential figure in his son’s rise.

The pair make use of their dog walks to review his performances and Louis has been there every step of the way during his son’s climb up to the Premier League. Well, almost.

Livramento, 18, had made such a quick impression at Southampton that just two weeks after joining from Chelsea for £5 million without a single senior appearance to his name manager Ralph Hasenhuttl handed him an immediate bow at Everton.

Livramento says Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl’s support has been a major help

Hasenhuttl’s call caught many off guard, including Livramento.

‘I didn’t really expect to play straight away,’ he admitted. 

‘Maybe play in the cup competitions, come on as sub a few times in the Premier League. Towards Christmas maybe get the opportunity to start a few games.’

By the time Livramento found out the day before that he was starting in Southampton’s season opener his father already had tickets for Chelsea’s clash with Crystal Palace.

Livramento made his Premier League debut on the opening day of the season against Everton

Not one to make a fuss, Livramento explained: ‘I don’t like messaging anyone [that I’m playing] before the game. I don’t like adding pressure on myself.

‘I feel like it’s better if someone looks at the line-up and goes “ah, he’s starting?”

‘Being the first game I didn’t really know how I was going to play and adapt to the Premier League.

‘I wanted to experience it on my own first, see how I dealt with it and my dad can always watch the highlights on Match of The Day.

The teenager has started every Premier League game Southampton have played this season

‘Every step of my development, playing for England, through the youth levels, when I stepped up to different age groups I didn’t really tell him, I just let him find out so I feel like he expected it.

‘But I got a few phone calls from him after the game and that’s the only [Southampton] game he hasn’t been to. I gave him my debut shirt so I thought that made up for it!’

Livramento has started every league game for Southampton this season, scoring his first senior goal against Burnley last weekend and earning a promotion up the England ranks to the under-21s.

He has emerged as one of the Premier League’s best prospects with his ability to influence games from right back and high-energy style ensuring he has stood out. 

Livramento scored his first Premier League goal in the 2-2 draw against Burnley last weekend

Livramento was Chelsea’s academy player of the year last season and has developed quickly

From the outside, he appears to have adapted to the Premier League effortlessly but Livramento said: ‘I can never say I’m really settled, especially being in the squad that we have.

‘There’s going to be fierce competition for games and I feel like that helps me to perform.

‘I’ve got to keep to a level where hopefully it’s enough to keep me in the starting 11.’

Livramento was Chelsea’s academy player of the year last season and listening to his approach to stepping up it is easy to understand how he forced his way into Hasenhuttl’s plans so swiftly

‘If you get the opportunity to play, play how you would normally in the under-23s in a first-team game,’ he said. 

‘You’re not there as a robot you have to perform, show everyone how good you are as a player and stick to your game. You’ve been given the opportunity, go and take it.

Hasenhuttl had no concerns over making the teenager a starter for Southampton this season

‘You never know when you’re going to get given the opportunity that change many things in your life.

‘Playing against some of the world’s best wingers, one v one, it’s crazy thinking about how I was playing under-23s not so long ago and now I’m playing against the best that football has to offer.

‘I’ve just really enjoyed it and don’t see it as I should be scared. I just want to prove how good I am and hopefully I can do that going forward.

‘It was good to get chucked in straightaway. That’s where you get tested the most, in the moments where you don’t expect it.

The Southampton full-back admitted he still feels surreal to be playing in the Premier League

‘The intensity is huge. And obviously you’re playing in front of massive crowds. It took me a few games to get used to but it’s just been a great experience so far. I’m looking forward to building on that.’

Livramento’s decision to leave his boyhood club for Southampton was a big one, but one that has paid off handsomely.

He said: ‘I was seeing a lot of young boys playing at the highest level of football. I’m good friends with [former teammate] Jamal Musiala from Bayern Munich and he’s been tearing it up.

‘He made a huge decision to leave [Chelsea] when he was younger and was rewarded with the way he’s playing and getting opportunities.

Livramento had to quickly come to grips with the ferocious intensity of the Premier League

‘I wouldn’t say he made me but it just highlighted to me that if you want to take that next step in your development maybe this is a different way to go.

‘I thought I was ready to take that step up as an individual and had to look at where was the best pathway for me to maybe get given the opportunity to show now I’m ready to take that next step.

‘When Southampton showed interest it was hard for me to turn down a club that has proven to be a great place for young players to grow and get given the opportunity to show a bigger audience that they are ready.

‘I can’t say that because it was the best for me it will be the best for other people in my position.

The former Chelsea youth product has no regret over leaving the Blues for Southampton

Everyone’s got their different pathways and this is more suited for me.’

Livramento has justified that faith in his ability with his Southampton displays but he has not always been as confident. 

In his early days at Chelsea, after he reluctantly attended his trial, he was indebted to Fiona Armfield, now the club’s talent ID coordinator, for taking him under her wing and being ‘that figure I needed, someone close to me when my parents were on the touchline and helping me become more confident playing my football.’

A few years later, Livramento feeling like others were ahead of him in his age groups and seeing his friends progress while he struggled to find enjoyment in his football prompted a pep talk with his dad.

Livramento’s performances this season were rewarded with a first U21 cap last month

‘I was only 11 or 12 and was saying that I was not confident in the way that I was playing or training,’ he said.

‘Opening up to my dad and saying that really helped me progress. As an under-12 that was my best season in the academy with the younger age groups.

‘I remember telling my dad and then we set goals and thought of ways that we can deal with it and that just helped me take my game to the next level.

The England U21 international sets new targets before each season together with his father

‘Since then we have done it every season, set goals for what I want to do, and it’s been a routine which has helped me.

‘He actually sent me them again last night [on Wednesday]. I can’t say what they are for this season, they are between me and my dad, but, no, I haven’t achieved them yet.’

Given how quickly he has already exceeded expectations at Southampton it will surely not be long before Livramento does.

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