In-form forward Tammy Abraham says he has not decided between England or Nigeria after his goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Lille.
Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have had good starts to their seasons and it’s no surprise they’re the rave of the moment at Chelsea. On the international level though, Mason Mount’s performances have earned him a call up under Gareth Southgate while Tammy Abraham still awaits his first senior appearance.
It would seem like injustice to the Chelsea forward though as he’s been just about standout in terms of performances in his position.
So far this term, no Englishman has scored more than the 21-year-old in the Premier League. His seven goals in the League is just one shy of current top goalscorer Sergio Aguero on eight goals. The striker marked his 22nd birthday with his eighth goal of the season in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Lille in the Champions League yesterday and he is on par with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling with eight goals in all competitions (via Transfermarkt). Quite esteemed company to be mentioned alongside with.
Based on form, Tammy Abraham deserves a senior call up already – if he is ever going to be in Gareth Southgate’s plans
Yet Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and Callum Wilson are the current striking options by the Three Lions boss.
Abraham has already played for England at senior level in friendlies against Brazil and Germany in 2017, as well as at youth level (via Guardian).
But he remains eligible to play for Nigeria.
“I love both nations,” Abraham said. “To be wanted by both nations, clearly I’m doing something right on the pitch for Chelsea. I just have to keep going. My time will come.
“I’m not sure, I haven’t made a decision yet. I’m just focusing on the club now.”
“I’ve grown up in an area with a lot of African culture and African background,” he said to Sky Sports
“Even in the changing room nowadays, we play Afrobeats and all sorts. So you’re fully aware that Nigeria is a massive country. It’s global.”
Gareth Southgate will name his latest senior squad later today for the upcoming European Qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. While the thought of playing alongside Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and fellow Premier League stars might be exciting, it might be in Abraham’s best interest to pick the Super Eagles over the Three Lions for his national allegiance.
With that in mind, here’s three reasons why Tammy Abraham should pick Nigeria over England, should the development of his career be the major goal.
Lack of game time
On paper, it may seem like choosing England over Nigeria is a more “exciting” option which it actually is. But the reality is that every player wants game time and as a youngster, he will have better chances with the Super Eagles.
Harry Kane is still 26 and has many good years left to play. Then there’s Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford (who seems to be playing anywhere lately) as well. If you look a bit further still, there’s still Ashley Barnes who has equally been impressive in 2019 but awaits a call up as well.
All of these players are way ahead of Tammy Abraham in any regard and a chance of him getting any decent time with all of them available is super slim.
Switch to Nigeria where their main striker is Odion Ighalo.
At 30, he only has at best one more major competition left in him before the role becomes available for a new heir. Also, the only other person in line to challenge Abraham will be 22-year-old Henry Onyekuru and 20-year-old Victor Osimhen at Lille. However, they play for Monaco and Lille respectively and with that in mind, they won’t get as much buzz and authenticity as a Chelsea player would.
Tammy Abraham would definitely get playing time under the Super Eagles and that could help speed up his development and give him more confidence on the personal side.
History to learn from
Whether Tammy Abraham will eventually accept the call up – should Gareth Southgate name him in his squad remains to be seen, but should he opt for the Super Eagles, it would not be the first time a player has snubbed England, and it would not necessarily be a detriment to his career. In fact, quite the opposite.
Wilfried Zaha is one of the prime examples. The 26-year-old winger did appear twice for England under Roy Hodgson but not in a competitive game, just like Abraham. He didn’t play international football again until January 2017, when he made his debut for the Ivory Coast, and since then he’s bagged 20 of his 54 career goals – nearly half (via Transfermarkt).
He was even linked with a big-money move to both Arsenal and Bayern Munich in the summer and that exposure to regular international football clearly aided his development.
Ashley Williams chose another nation over England in the form of Wales. Born in Wolverhampton, he played for the Dragons first in 2005 when he was with Stockport County in League One, albeit not becoming a regular until after he joined Swansea City.
In the end, he went onto to make 86 appearances for the Welsh (via Transfermarkt) and captained the side to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 while his domestic career enjoyed an upward trajectory ending with a spell at Everton.
Scott McTominay has done the same more recently. The midfielder chose to represent Scotland after he was allegedly only sent a text by Southgate. And with his performances at Manchester United improving by the day, he will no doubt see regular football with his national side as well.
Or perhaps the best player the Chelsea man can learn from is Gabriel Agbonlahor. Also of Nigerian and Scottish descent but he opted to play for England because according to him it was more “promising”. After being named in the u21s with Nigeria, he rejected the call and went to The Three Lions instead.
The rest is history as Agbonlahor (now 32) has only three senior caps and zero goals in his “promising” England career (via Transfermarkt).
Winning a trophy
Winning a trophy at club level is great but there’s a special feeling that comes with a medal or your country. Sadio Mane did claim that winning the Nations Cup back in July would give him more fulfilment than the Champions League alas his side lost out in the finals. If Tammy Abraham wants a closer chance to that “special feeling”, then he should be going with Nigeria.
A big claim at first glance but gets more logical when it’s given more thought. The West-African nation are giants in their own regard and have won the AFCON trophy three times with their most recent triumph coming six years ago when they lifted the trophy in 2013. In the recently concluded AFCON back in July, the Super Eagles also came third and narrowly missed out on a berth in the finals.
Who knows what Tammy Abraham’s goals might have done to their fortunes had he been present? England might have a World Cup to their name but you’ll have to travel far back to 1961, a time when current manager Gareth Southgate wasn’t even born.
England are a great side and growing greater by the day but in simple terms, Tammy Abraham will have a better chance with Nigeria for a country winners medal.
Abraham certainly has a big decision in front of him, and it is not one he should take lightly. England is exciting for any player to represent but it can indeed be greener on the other side – in this case, in some other countries. How fitting is it that the colors of the Nigeria flag are indeed dominated by green. Perhaps a fertile choice for Tammy Abraham to grow his trade.