The success of England at this summer’s World Cup comes as no surprise to Tammy Abraham, who has been involved in the national team set-up for years now, during which time he has worked with many of those charged with leading the Three Lions to glory in Russia.
Our striker has represented England at Under-18, Under-19, Under-20, Under-21 and senior level, when he played in friendly draws against Germany and Brazil last November.
England have already gone further than both of those sides at the World Cup and tonight, against Croatia, they have their biggest game in decades. The past few weeks have made for great viewing for Abraham, who knows the management and most of the players personally.
‘England have done well, better than everyone’s expected really,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘Everyone is proud of them and there is such a great atmosphere. You can see from everyone’s faces when they score. There is no pressure on them, they have done us proud and they have to keep going.'
‘I think they have a lot of confidence, they’re in the semi-finals of the World Cup which is massive. I don’t see there being a lot of goals, so I will say 1-0 England.’
— Tammy Abraham
It was Gareth Southgate who called Abraham up to the senior squad last year. The current toast of the nation has clearly played a critical role in his side’s progress thus far, and Abraham believes the seeds of the team’s success in Russia were sown many years ago.
‘Working with the Under-21s meant Gareth got to see a lot of young players and young talent, and that has helped the England senior team. It goes to show now because we have a young team at the World Cup and they’re doing very well.
‘I think it’s the difference between the other managers England have had compared to Gareth Southgate. Hopefully he can continue keeping an eye out on the young teams and bringing them into the first team, like he did with me.
‘He is very supportive,’ adds Abraham when we ask what the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender is like to work with.
‘He wants you to play with confidence. He doesn’t put too much pressure on you. Players need that, especially players like myself. Going in to a new environment you are made to feel welcome and natural.’
Gary Cahill and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are the men representing Chelsea in the current England squad out in Russia. Having spent so much time playing alongside him in our Academy, Abraham is especially delighted for Loftus-Cheek. He confirms the pair have been in regular contact.
‘He is enjoying it! Who wouldn’t to be fair. They’re doing well and he is playing well himself when he has been on the pitch. He has every reason to have a smile on his face.
‘We are all proud of him. I have just been telling him to keep going, to keep working as hard as he can, and to keep enjoying himself.
‘I played with Pickford in the Under-21 competition last year, I am so happy for him,’ Tammy continues. ‘He has come a long way.
‘Even players like Marcus Rashford, who I grew up playing against and now he’s at the World Cup – it’s just crazy! We are all proud of them.’
Abraham has enjoyed international success of his own already this summer, scoring two goals as England won the Toulon Tournament for the second straight year. He says it was tough for his legs at the end of a long, hard season, but he particularly enjoyed playing – and winning - with team-mates he has known for most of his life.
The tournament in France followed his first full year of Premier League football, which didn’t have the ending he wished for as Swansea were relegated, but he details the invaluable experience he gained during his time in South Wales.
‘I learned a lot. I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. What happened to me towards the end of the season makes you into a man quicker.
‘You learn the other side of the game. It was not just winning, winning, winning like I was used to at the Chelsea Academy. Going to real men’s football sometimes it’s not about winning, it’s about digging in as a team and defending the whole game which is different to what I’m used to. I got to learn a lot.’