Tammy Abraham: Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate both back their man

What do Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate have in common? They both back their man, according to Qatar World Cup-bound Roma and England striker Tammy Abraham

  • England have not taken an overseas-based player to the World Cup since 2006 
  • Tammy Abraham could be one of three stars abroad to make it to Qatar in 2022 
  • The Roma striker scored 27 goals under Jose Mourinho after leaving Chelsea
  • Abraham has opened up on life under Mourinho and England’s Gareth Southgate
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

England haven’t taken an overseas-based player to the World Cup since David Beckham and Owen Hargreaves in 2006.

Now, three of Gareth Southgate’s Nations League squad — Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Jude Bellingham — hope to change that in Qatar.

Abraham scored 27 goals and won the Europa Conference League title under Jose Mourinho with Roma last season and reveals a growing curiosity among Premier League stars about what it’s like to play abroad. 

The 24-year-old former Chelsea striker is living proof that it can improve your game.

Tammy Abraham (pictured) has opened up on life under Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate

The Roma and England star is training with Southgate’s squad for June’s Nations League games

‘Yeah, a few of the England players have asked me about it. I’ve had a lot questions and I’ve told them the positives,’ says Abraham.

‘It’s difficult to move countries and learning a language is never easy but when it’s good, it’s good. I’d like to believe I have improved technically.

‘I’ve always been a goalscorer but in Italy I have had to work on different aspects; hold-up play, beating players.

‘I’ve found out myself that I’m good at this thing, so let’s work more on it. Playing consistently and in certain big matches makes you pick up things.’

Abraham’s form has seen him overtake Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ollie Watkins and others to become Harry Kane’s chief understudy.

Barring injury or an unexpected dip in form, his job at the World Cup will be as a sidekick but he has to be ready just in case — as Geoff Hurst was in 1966 when replacing Jimmy Greaves. Abraham experienced that understudy role at Chelsea.

The 24-year-old had a stellar season, scoring 27 goals for Roma after moving from Chelsea

Abraham is expected to be backup to first-choice striker Harry Kane (left) at the ’22 World Cup

It also helps that he has great respect for Kane. While Kane went on loan from Tottenham to Leyton Orient and Millwall before hitting it big, Abraham was relegated at Swansea and had loan spells in the Championship with Bristol City and Aston Villa.

‘Harry is probably the best striker in the world and that’s not me speaking from only watching him on TV, that is from training and playing with him. Then you get to see everything,’ adds Abraham. 

‘The ball might bounce to him when we practise set-plays and he just bangs it in the top corner. He’s also had a journey, gone through the loans like I have good and bad, and he is who he is because of that.

‘We want Harry to smash the England goals record and we’re always here to support him. I learned that at Chelsea, whenever I was second or third choice.

‘We won the Champions League but I wasn’t the one to score. I wasn’t even on the pitch. Sometimes you have to accept these moments — it’s not always going to be you, it’s about helping as much as possible.

He revealed Three Lions boss Southgate (above) has good people-management skills, like Jose

‘For me, whoever scores at the World Cup, I’m buzzing — I’m celebrating like it’s me. And whenever I’m given a chance, I will just try and grab it with two hands and show what I am made of.’

Abraham’s England career has been a slow burn so far. He made his debut against Germany — also England’s opponents on Tuesday — almost five years ago and has three goals in 10 appearances.

Playing for Mourinho and Gareth Southgate might seem like polar opposites but Abraham reckons they have more in common than outsiders would expect.

‘I think they have quite a few similarities. The most important one is player management,’ he says.

‘Gareth and Jose, Jose when he’s happy, their player management is good. They speak to the players on and off the pitch. I am still getting messages from Jose now, finding out how camp is going, how my family are, holidays planned.

‘With Gareth, when I was going through a difficult spell last season at Chelsea he was messaging me, calling me, asking about my mental health, how I’ve been coping. It’s nice to have that support.’ Mourinho even speaks to him in Italian.

For a long time, English players as a group were considered too insular to be successful. 

Southgate is fortunate this time to have Bellingham tearing up the Bundesliga with Dortmund, Tomori claiming a Serie A title with Milan and Abraham finishing joint fourth in the Italian scoring charts.

‘I’d never been to Rome before, even on holiday,’ says the striker. ‘I lived in London my whole life, so it’s nice to embrace something different. I’m learning new things every day. It’s been great.’  

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