THOUGH HE MAY HAVE STARRED FOR ENGLAND AT THE AGE GRADE LEVEL, HE IS STILL ELIGIBLE TO PLAY FOR NIGERIA AND THE ENGLAND U-21 STAR OF NIGERIAN DESCENT TAMMY ABRAHAM HAS EXPRESSED HIS DESIRE TO RETURN TO HIS PARENT CLUB CHELSEA AT THE END OF HIS LOAN SPELL WITH CHAMPIONSHIP CLUB ASTON VILLA
Tammy Abraham believes he has the ability to play for Chelsea and wants to return to the club after his loan at Aston Villa. The 21-year-old has scored 21 goals for Championship side Villa, having seen another potential loan switch to Wolves break down in January.
Abraham has already had further loans at Bristol City and Swansea, but aims to challenge for the Chelsea first-team after helping Villa earn promotion back to the Premier League.
“That’s the aim going into next season,” Abraham told Sky Sports News. “As a young kid, I’ve always believed I will play for Chelsea. I always believe that. I think I have the ability to. I just have to, when I get the opportunity, grab it with two hands.”
The England U-21 forward has seen his Chelsea team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi, who Abraham describes as “like a little brother,” dominate headlines this season after being the subject of bids from Bayern Munich.
“He was always coming into my house, we didn’t really play together because he was a bit too young but he was my brother’s age,” said Abraham.
“Watching him grow up to where he is now, he’s done very well. He’s more than deserved this call-up, I’m very happy for him. Ever since a young age, he’s been unbelievable. Now he’s actually doing it in men’s football for the world to see. It’s heart-warming . I just hope he continues that and carries on building .”
Chelsea signed Gonzalo Higuain on a six-month loan deal in January, but it’s unclear whether they will attempt to make the move permanent in the summer. The Blues’ recruitment plans are further complicated by a two-window transfer ban handed to them as punishment for breaching FIFA rules on the signing of under-18 foreign players.
Initially, when the season started, Abraham wanted to remain at Chelsea and fight for a first-team spot but had to switch clubs for the third straight season after he was overlooked for selection by manager Maurizio Sarri.
The dream of the Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, is to have youngsters of Nigerian origin doing well in England and other leagues, wear the Super Eagles colours .
Abraham, however, poured cold water on suggestions that he could switch international allegiance to Nigeria after Pinnick, had initially said the former England U-19 and Under-21 player had agreed to play for the Super Eagles.
Born in London, Abraham is still permitted to switch allegiances as he is yet to play for the senior side and qualifies for the Super Eagles through his father, who is Nigerian.
“Clearly, he understands he stands a better chance playing for the Super Eagles. With his talent, he has the ability to fight for a place in the Nigeria squad,” Pinnick had said then.
Former national team head-coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, indeed backed Tammy Abraham’s decision to play for England national senior football team instead of Nigeria, saying the rejection of Nigeria by Abraham should make the NFF eggheads wakeup to their responsibilities.
Onigbinde berated NFF for always going after already-made stars abroad instead of developing the abundant talents in Nigeria. He wondered why NFF would wish to reap where it did not sow, saying that Abraham was born and developed in England and should be obliged to play for England.
“Yes, we should beg them since there is no meaningful, functional developmental programme at home. It’s the football federation’s fault. If we have a functional development programme, no player would be in a position to take the country for a ride. Ideally, the nucleus of the national team should be home-based. That is what I have always said, but nobody seems to be interested in listening to my advice,” a furious Onigbinde said.
“Why won’t the young man make the statement on social media? I do not really blame him. What happens to the many talents in the Nigerian league back home? There are good players of Nigerian descent abroad quite alright but it seems they are practically begged to represent Nigeria now,” he added.
Since assuming office as the President of the NFF, Pinnick had never hidden his intention to woo players with Nigerian background who have featured only in age-group competitions for foreign countries. So far, he has not done badly with his moves.
“The initial plan was to take our players in the various clubs, but now, what are trying to do is what we call VIP scouting – talking to these young players that are playing abroad to play for their fatherland.
“I am yet to see a Nigerian that is regretting being a Nigerian. No Nigerian, even if they have four or five passports, they are always excited being Nigerians. I can assure you that we shall get them to play for us at the appropriate time,” Pinnick said.
Abraham joined Chelsea at U-8 level and progressed through the clubs academy system. He was part of the Chelsea youth side which recorded back-to-back triumphs in both the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup in 2015 and 2016. In the 2016 edition of the UEFA Youth League, Abraham pitched in with a return of eight goals in nine matches, making him the tournament’s second highest goal scorer. He carried his form over into the FA Youth Cup and scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City. During the 2014–15 and 2015–16 seasons he scored 74 goals in 98 matches across all competitions for Chelsea’s various youth sides.
His form at youth level caught the attention of the interim manager, Guus Hiddink, who invited him to train with the senior team at the back end of the 2015-16 Season.
Abraham has appeared in three matches for Chelsea’s first-team, against Liverpool and Leicester City in the Premier League in May 2016, plus the Community Shield tie versus Manchester City in August 2018.