Give it a couple of days and Roma’s fans may change their tune. Well, not the tune exactly, but the temptation could be to tweak the words a little. In the Curva Sud at the Stadio Olimpico where they watched, enamoured, as Tammy Abraham belted out the club’s anthem and belted in the goals, they long since took to calling him Tre Punti Tammy, Tammy Three Points. Come back from Budapest with that 15kg hunk of silver and it could be time to call him Tammy Three Cups.
After all, the England striker says: “It is the only one left not in my cabinet.” Winner of the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021, the Europa Conference League in 2022, victory against Sevilla in the final of the Europa League in Hungary on Wednesday would complete a unique collection, all three continental competitions clinched and consecutively. Tammy Tre Tituli has a nice ring to it, echoes of José Mourinho’s famous “zero tituli” line, uttered more than a decade ago and repeated ever since, slipping into Italy’s footballing lexicon, his use of a u where there should be an o making it more memorable.
Mourinho had aimed that barb at then-rivals Roma, a pointed reminder that for all the talent they were going to finish the season empty handed; now he is their coach and they love him for leading the giallorossi to a second European final in two seasons and Abraham to his third. The Englishman loves him too. “I always call him my uncle in Rome,” he says. “He knows how to drive me, how to get under my skin. Even if I’m playing the best football of my career, he will tell me I need to do more. As players we need that.”
It has worked out well. “Two years, two finals: it’s a dream,” Abraham says, standing in the sunshine, boots off after training at Roma’s Trigoria HQ. “Nobody ever thought this would happen and now we’re here. It’s a competition I want to win – the only one left. It’s very important, special for me.”
This whole place is. There was a reason they attributed Three Points to him, why banners were made in his honour. In his first season, Abraham scored more goals than any Englishman ever in a Serie A season and more than any debutant at Roma, overtaking Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella. He completed the campaign with 27, and there was a fondness too for the work rate and the way he embraced the city, his willingness to learn, to live, hints of Italian occasionally slipping into his English as he speaks.
Although his second campaign has not brought as many goals, at just nine, nor performances like the first, while the three points are no longer his responsibility as often, the name and warmth remain. The question is whether he will: if there is something Abraham keeps getting asked, it is what his future holds. There is an assumption that he will soon depart, driven by a second season that has not been like his first and the awareness that he is one of the few players with a market, someone whose sale could allow the club to build.
“In football there are always rumours: the media hear things before I hear things,” Abraham says. “I am not sure. God is in control. What the future holds, we’ll see, but my focus is to bring another trophy to this wonderful club.”
Whatever happens, there will be gratitude, good memories, even among those who consider a sale the right decision. There is a recognition that the arrival of Paulo Dybala may not always have suited him, as the mechanics of their attack changed, and that chances have been few, goals given up for the greater good. Take the semi-final second leg: Bayer Leverkusen had 23 shots, Roma one.
“As a striker, your objective is always to score as many as possible but beyond scoring you want to win a trophy,” Abraham says. “We got to the end: it has been a long, hard season for all of us. We have had to fight. We need to defend as a team, which of course as a striker is sometimes annoying because you always want opportunities to score, but I do anything for my team and the attackers have had to sacrifice to get all this way. My objective is to help, [whether] that’s scoring goals or playing as a centre-back and defending. We have the opportunity to lift a trophy so we have to be excited and confident.”
There is always a risk of being forgotten a little when you go abroad; reaching the final is another reminder that Abraham is still here. “That is one thing I considered before I left England,” he admits. “I knew it would be tough. But I came to an amazing club, I have experienced something totally different to what I was used to and I have no regrets.” How could he? He didn’t choose a bad place to come. There’s a laugh. “Amazing city, amazing food, amazing weather, amazing people,” he says. “I love it.
“I think after your career, that’s when you take in the experiences. I’ll be able to look back and think: ‘I spent some of my life living in Rome.’ You will cherish it even more. I came here to learn a different part of my game, to spread my wings, to learn a different way of living. I love being here. It has given me the experience that, let’s say I do go back to England in the future, I can take with me.” Maybe Tammy Three Points can bring back a new nickname too.