Tammy Abraham enjoys life under Jose Mourinho after responding to the Roma manager’s call to fend off Premier League interest in a fresh start in sunny Italy.
The 24-year-old became the latest England talent to travel abroad this summer as the lack of opportunities under Thomas Tuchel saw him lift the curtain on his long association with Chelsea.
Abraham scored a hat-trick in what turned out to be Frank Lampard’s last game in January and only played seven more times for the club as the forward was left out of the winning League final squad champions.
He then traded Stamford Bridge for Stadio Olimpico in search of playing time, joining Roma in a £ 34million contract and scoring four goals in their first 10 appearances under Mourinho.
He said: “Why Italy? Good question. I had different options. I spoke to so many clubs at the time. Italy came and I spoke to Jose. He had a goal.
“I could see where he wanted Roma to go and see where he wanted to take them and I wanted to be part of the process. He really trusted me so he had a big impact on why I chose Roma. . “
Abraham said when Mourinho “speaks, listen”, the forward having learned a lot from the former Chelsea boss after listening to his successful sales pitch.
“The first thing he said to me was when I picked up the phone he said, ‘Do you want to enjoy the sun or stay in the rain?’ I laughed, ”he said with a smile.
“I think at first I didn’t think much about it when we were talking. I think my mindset was that I wanted to be in the Premier League and I wanted to stay here.
“I felt like it was my home, around London, around England. It was my home. And I think I had to open my wings a little bit and make a choice and I chose Italy and I would not change it.
“I’ve learned so much tactically – as much as I’ve learned in my entire life. It’s good. You have to learn from different managers. Right now I’m learning a lot.”
“The easiest option would have been to stick around”
Abraham is enjoying the spotlight that Mourinho told him to expect in the Italian capital, as well as the chance to learn a language, experience a different culture and visit new places.
The England international says he enjoys learning, but that it has come through adversity at times this year, admitting that he “didn’t really understand” why he didn’t have more opportunities under Tuchel.
“I think the easiest option would have been to stay and sit,” Abraham said.
“Chelsea are a huge club, they are going to compete and try to win trophies, so the easiest option would have been to do that.
“I realized I had to go out and prove myself, I had to play a few games. I made a decision and it was the right one.
“I think at first it’s pretty hard to deal with. You went from playing regularly to not being in the mix and even sometimes not being in the bench. I got to a point where I had to m sit and talk to me I was going to practice and I was doing it for myself.
“I was going to train to improve myself because it’s easy to throw a strop, to be angry all over the place, to be a bad egg.
“For me it was the opposite. I learned about myself and I think it strengthened my state of mind. I was with the team whenever they needed me.
“Players like Mason (Mount), Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi – players who are younger than me, I had to kind of lift them up and be their support, help them and cheer them on.
“At the end of the day, we won trophies as a team, so I have to thank them for that.”
“The recall from England came as a surprise to me”
Abraham said this spell made him realize that there would be weak moments during a career that is back on an upward trajectory, which led to his return to the English setup.
He was involved in a Covid-19 violation last October and his last appearance in England was the following month, meaning he ended up watching Euro 2020 from afar.
But Abraham is focused on the future and seizes the opportunity, having been excluded from the initial squad roster for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.
“It was a surprise to me,” said the six-caps forward.
“I woke up to a call from Gareth and I was still half asleep and when I answered he spoke to me and what he said at the start was that he couldn’t guarantee me games because there were only two games but he found a way and brought me in.
“I am always happy to play for my country.”