How has Tammy Abraham settled in so well at Roma, when other English players have failed to adapt to life abroad?
It’s been almost five years since Francesco Totti retired from football, and three years since Daniele De Rossi left Roma for a final fling at Boca Juniors.
“This is the guy they called Captain future, because he was supposed to inherit the armband when Totti left, as it happened Totti stuck around much longer than anybody expected, so he didn’t get to have the Captain’s armband that long but he’s been a tremendous servant to the club…”ESPN FC
Since then, Roma fans have been in search of a new idol. One that could begin to ease the pain of their heroes’ departure.
Both Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi were born in Rome.
It would have been difficult to predict then, that the player to set the Roma fans’ hearts on fire once again, would be a man born in Camberwell, south London.
That Englishman is Tammy Abraham.
Not only has he scored 23 goals in all competitions in his first campaign abroad, but he’s scored more goals than any English player, anywhere in the world this season.
Tammy Abraham settled in almost immediately, scoring his first goal for Roma only 12 days after making his debut last August.
And a sure-fire way to cement your place as a Roman hero?
Scoring in the derby, which Tammy Abraham did twice in a 3-0 win over Lazio earlier this month.
“This city, it’s crazy. It’s crazy for the football, in particular it’s crazy when there is a derby.
“The mentality is extremely local.”
“We were founded in the working class area of Rome, which is the station. So generally, the Roma fans come from the city while the Lazio fans come from outside. And that’s why we always fight about this, because we claim to be the real fans of Rome, while we see them as outsiders.”Copa 90 Stories
It took Tammy Abraham just 56 seconds to become only the second Englishman to score in the Derby della Capitale, after Paul Gascoigne scored for Lazio against Roma in 1992.
Tammy Abraham isn’t the first Englishman to have moved to Italy. Gazza, Paul Ince and David Platt all played in Serie A.
But English players do have a reputation for struggling to settle abroad.
“I think it was a long time ago…wasn’t so long ago sorry…that we were talking about our players not being aware of the way that the world works, and not necessarily cosmopolitan enough in their experiences and they opened their eyes to all aspects of football…going to play in Germany, once upon a time it was only Kevin Keegan and Tony Woodcock that did these sort of things and now we’ve got younger players that are prepared to do it earlier in their careers because the opportunities are bring afforded…”Talksport
Why is Tammy Abraham different?
For a start, he’s playing under Jose Mourinho, a man that speaks English and knows his parent club – Chelsea – very well.
Chris Smalling – another English player to have adapted well to life in Rome – is there too.
When you listen to Tammy Abraham’s introductory press conference at Roma, it’s clear he was prepared for what to expect in Italy.
“It’s always tough to break them down, to score past Italian teams and one thing I’ve learned coming here is…every team is good. Every team is very good. Compared to let me say the Premier League where if you’re at a good team, you have the ball a lot, you dominate the smaller teams, but here…everyone’s equal. Everyone likes to keep the ball, everyone likes to have a compact shape and it’s hard to break teams down. You have to find ways to break teams down.”AS Roma
And now he’s been there for several months, and he’s scoring goals for fun and basking in the post-derby glory, it’s clear that he’s loving life in the Italian capital.
“What can I say? Today we were the better team. We were more ready than them. From minute one we showed that this is our house, this is our home. It feels good to be here, to play for such a team and to win in a derby game. So now we can go home, we can go celebrate and enjoy Rome…”AS Roma
It’s not clear whether Tammy Abraham will stay in Italy long term. Roma paid £34 million for him on a permanent deal, although Chelsea do have a £68 million buyback clause.
That is only valid from the end of next season, though. And in the meantime, there will be plenty of Premier League clubs wanting to bring Rome’s hero back home.
Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and produced by Imy Harper.