Tammy Abraham: Why I had to leave Chelsea and how Jose Mourinho has already made me a better player

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tammy Abraham lost his place – but not his ambition.

Frozen out by Thomas Tuchel, he is rebuilding his career under Jose Mourinho and is determined to be considered among the greats of the game.

Those are lofty targets for a man who started just three Premier League games from January 31 to the end of the season and failed to make it beyond half time in any of them.

Abraham went from scoring a hat-trick in Frank Lampard’s final game in charge of Chelsea to a virtual cheerleader under Tuchel.

It spelled the end of his time at Stamford Bridge and cost him his place in England’s Euro 2020 squad.

But there is no sense of bitterness from the 24-year-old, whose broad smile seemed anything other than forced when celebrating Chelsea’s Champions League Final triumph in May, despite enduring the ignominy of failing to even make the bench.

That smile remains after taking the bold decision to kick-start his career in Italy with Roma – a move that has already earned him an England recall.

Ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier in Andorra, which Abraham could start in, he was frank about his struggles under Tuchel and his positivity about the future.

“I had an ambition and a goal that I set myself and it was to go out there and be the best I can be, to prove to everyone my true abilities,” he said.

“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.”

Tuchel quickly made it clear Abraham did not fit into his plans – deploying Kai Havertz as his central striker in preference to the home-grown talent, before making a centre forward his top priority in the summer. Romelu Lukaku’s £97.5million move from Inter Milan confirmed his time at Stamford Bridge was over.

“At first it’s quite tough to deal with,” said Abraham. “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.”

Abraham has made a bright start at Roma, with four goals in his first 10 appearances.

It has caught the attention of Gareth Southgate, who has recalled him to the England squad – and the forward insists this is just the start of his comeback.

“I’ve always told myself that no matter how good I get I can always get better,” he said. “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.”

Abraham claims Mourinho has already made him a better player – after giving him the hard sell during talks this summer that convinced him to walk away from the Premier League.

“I had different options,” he added. “So many clubs I was speaking to at the time.

“I spoke to Jose. He 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.”

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