A few years ago, in the summer of 2018, Tammy Abraham took the bold choice to leave on loan for a third straight season. He could’ve taken the easy option and stuck with the Chelsea first-team as a backup or third-choice striker, but instead he chose to go out and put himself in the spotlight, to try to (once again) prove himself. As it turned out, that season at Aston Villa not only propelled the Villans back into the Premier League, but Abraham himself as well, as he’d take over the Chelsea starting job the following season.
Unfortunately, three years on, Abraham was facing a similar conundrum this past summer. Having hardly played since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, he was facing the prospect of many more months of scrapping for morsels of minutes and sitting on the bench, if that. He certainly could have stayed, or perhaps chosen another loan somewhere in England. Instead, he’s taken the risk of going to Italy, to try to (once again) prove himself.
And so far, it’s working a treat — back in the England squad and playing big minutes and making a big impact at AS Roma (and already making our £80m buy-back a more realistic possibility).
“The easy option would’ve been to stick around and sit down. Chelsea’s a massive club, they will compete and try to win trophies, so the easy option would’ve been to do that.
“I realised that I needed go out and prove myself. I took a decision and it was the right one.”
Abraham’s almost complete sidelining was a bit baffling under Tuchel, but to his credit, the young striker never made a public scene, and never caused a disturbance that could’ve upset and derailed the team in our (ultimately successful) Champions League trophy quest. You might expect that sort of professionalism as a baseline in all players, yet it’s often a rare quality, especially in younger players.
And Tammy went above and beyond, even, actively supporting those who were playing, often taking those very same minutes that he might have been expecting to earn.
“At first it’s quite tough to deal with. You’ve gone from playing regularly to not being in the mix and not even making the bench sometimes. I got to a point where I had to sit down and talk to myself. I was going out to train and I was doing it for me. I was going to train to better myself because it’s easy to throw a strop, to be angry around the place, to be a bad egg. For me, it was the opposite.
“I learned about myself and that strengthened my mindset. I was with the team whenever they needed me. Players like Mason (Mount), Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi — the players that are younger than me, I kind of had to lift them and be their support, help them and encourage them.”
But now it’s about furthering his own career, and he’s certainly chosen a high-risk, high-reward option in that regard with José Mourinho. The Special On(c)e may not have the cachet or the aura he once commanded, but he made the careers of a generation of Chelsea players, and he could just be the ticket to greatness for Tammy as well.
“I’ve always told myself that no matter how good I get I can always get better. I think after my career I can sit back and look at the things that I’ve done and I want to be able to say I’ve done everything I can, I’ve left it all out there, I’ve worked as hard as I could. I want to be in the names of the best striker in the world when they’re ranking the strikers. That’s my aim and I won’t stop until I’m there.”
“[José] had a goal. I could see where he wanted Roma to go, and see where he wants to take them and I wanted to be part of the process. He really put his trust in me so he was a big impact on the reason why I chose Roma.
“I picked up the phone and he was like, ‘Do you want to enjoy some sun or stay in the rain?’
“I have learned so much tactically — as much as I have in my entire lifetime. It is good. You need to learn off different managers. Right now, I am learning a lot.”
-Tammy Abraham; source: Evening Standard
Abraham certainly has the potential to be world class. If he can unlock it and reach it, this won’t be the last time we’re hearing from him.