Tammy Abraham watched Chelsea’s trio of Academy graduates close out the victory against Leicester City last weekend. But it is Chelsea’s oldest Academy product that is keeping Abraham focused on his path to Stamford Bridge.
While Chelsea faces criticism from some of its loanees and a former youth coach over their loan policy, Tammy Abraham speaks well of the support he receives from the Blues. Perhaps because he is only on his first loan and not his third, fifth or sixth, Abraham still sees and desires a future with Chelsea.
Chelsea’s loan army has become a cohesive group of its own despite the distance between its members. The youngsters stay in regular contact with each other via WhatsApp, and talk to each other as much as possible. Tammy Abraham talked about his closeness with the rest of the Blues to SkySports.
"Obviously we get back to each other and say congrats to each other… We always chat to each other after matches and find out how we’re doing."
Much more importantly, Abraham notes one first team player who takes a particular interest in his development: captain, leader, legend John Terry.
"[John Terry] still gets in touch. I think he keeps up with the games and how well I’m doing then he gets back to me to say congratulations, just little things like that which obviously is a good thing for me and it gives me confidence knowing people [at Chelsea] are aware of me."
Abraham’s comments cement Terry’s importance to all levels of the club. Terry is not only a leader in training and in matches, but he is a role model and big brother to the youngsters. He does this of his own choosing and his own instincts as a leader. No one assigns Terry these tasks. He just knows what needs to be done and he does it.
Terry is the perfect mentor for young footballers because he has been so imperfect throughout his career. He has seen, done and survived all the stupid things that could derail a young man’s ambitions.
Offend tourists days after their country suffers a national tragedy? Yeah, done that.
Shagged a teammate’s ex? Been there, mate.
Direct a racial slur towards another player? You bet.
Been the subject of memes mocking you? All over that one.
Who better to give a cocky young footballer the slap upside the head, stern talking to and arm around the shoulder than someone who has been through it? John Terry has done all the right things following all the wrong things. As a result, those incidents are at the bottom of his Wikipedia page rather than the subject of “30 for 30” episodes.
Beyond the disciplinary life lessons, Terry also knows value of the congratulatory text, the birthday phone call and sitting down to chat at the Cobham canteen. These are the moments that can pull a youth prospect – or even a full international on the first team – from the brink of giving up or giving in to self-doubt.
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Whoever assumes the captaincy after Terry retires will have to learn all these little things that cannot be taught. Being a leader is much more than straightening your lines and ensuring the back-post is marked on corner kicks. Terry cannot just hand off a checklist to Gary Cahill or Cesar Azpilicueta and say “This is the job.”
Chelsea needs John Terry on the pitch this season, but the future of the club lies with him continuing on with the youth players. Tammy Abraham is the player that mentioned Terry’s involvement, but he is surely not the only loanee that regularly hears from the captain.
Before the club tries to drive a hard bargain on another one-year contract, they should remember how much they need Terry at Cobham for the future. The keys to the club and a blank coaching contract should be his for the taking.