Not many players have endured such a rollercoaster season as Tammy Abraham. He has 15 goals in his debut campaign in the Chelsea first team, making him the club’s top goalscorer – well clear of the rest.
Abraham has already had some huge moments for the Blues, ones which will live long in his memory. His first Chelsea goal against Norwich, his hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Wolves and the late winner in the derby win over Arsenal stand out, epitomising what has been a brilliant season for the 22-year-old.
But it’s not all been plain sailing.
The waters have been choppy, the waves brutal and his start to life in the Chelsea first team ruthless. Things started tricky when he failed to score in his first three appearances for Chelsea. Worst of all, Abraham was subject to disgusting racist abuse online after missing the decisive penalty in the Super Cup defeat to Liverpool.
Absolutely nobody deserves to suffer any form of racism, not least a 22-year-old for failing to kick a ball into a goal. It was a horrible night to be on social media – let alone for the man himself – with even a proportion of Chelsea fans sending torrid abuse to Abraham.
He opened up on his early difficulties, showing how much they affected him. Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I lost a lot of confidence after that. I was doing well on my loans but when I came back to Chelsea, it just wasn’t working – I couldn’t get my first goal, I couldn’t do anything.
“In my head I was wondering if it was worth all the stress because I was getting abused on Twitter, a lot of racist comments, people saying I wasn’t good enough to be playing for Chelsea. It was the biggest down in anything I’ve done in football.”
That was the adversity Abraham had to overcome, and he certainly replied on the pitch. 15 goals later, his impact and contribution has been crucial for the Blues in every competition.
""It was the biggest down in anything I’ve done in football.”"- Tammy Abraham
Some may try and downplay Abraham’s impact, criticising him for the number of big chances missed and games without a goal. But look beyond the unwarranted slander, and it is clear that he deserves far more praise and appreciation than he gets. Chelsea would not have reached the Champions League knockout stages or be fighting for a top four finish without their talisman’s goalscoring talent.
In the Champions League alone, Abraham’s two goals won four points for the Blues. Without that, Chelsea would have been knocked out at the group stage, demoted to Europa League football for a second consecutive season.
There’s a similar story in the Premier League: without Abraham’s 13 league goals, Chelsea would be a devastating 12 points worse off. That would see them down in 12th place with a measly 36 points, nine points off relegation rather than off second place – albeit he's only scored once in seven games in all competitions in 2020.
The stats give enough proof that Abraham is a key player for Chelsea, but his actual performances provide even more evidence. His positioning inside the box is excellent, his work-rate an asset to the side and his football intelligence remarkable for such a young player.
Chelsea rely on Abraham and his goals, and they’ll be relying on him more than ever now.
The Premier League will return on 17 June, after an unprecedented three-month forced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. English football is on the way back, and with so much yet to be settled, the Blues will look back to their English striker to lead the line in style.
Nine league games remain, as well as the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester and the Champions League second leg at Bayern Munich. Domestic action is the first priority for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, with three weeks to complete final preparations for the long-awaited trip to Aston Villa.
Abraham’s goals have got Chelsea this far, but the final stretch is where they will matter most.
The battled for Champions League football next season is far from over: Manchester United, Wolves and Sheffield United are all hot on the Blues’ tail, and there is little room for error now. A top four finish is the league aim and the finish line is in sight; albeit past a huge few weeks of relentless football with everything to play for.
Abraham has done so well throughout the season, and it’s time for him to pick up where he left off. Every goal matters, and he will need to be at the top of his game to end his debut campaign on a high. He is capable of scoring more goals in the Premier League, potentially taking his season tally past the esteemed 20-goal mark.
There’s a reason Abraham has been trusted with the iconic number nine. Despite speculation over the number’s curse, many seem to forget that one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players wore it.
Peter Osgood is the Blues’ most famous bearer of the number nine, wearing it in his 11 years at the club. Ossie’s legacy remains strong at Stamford Bridge, his statue outside the West Stand and his ashes buried under the penalty spot at the Shed End. He is a Chelsea legend, a striker who Abraham can replicate and command the attack in the same manner.
The King of Stamford Bridge lives on, and it’s time for the prince to continue the legacy as Chelsea’s number nine.