Tammy Abraham: EFL Young Player award for Bristol City's on-loan Chelsea striker

Lee Johnson (left) and Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham (right) has scored eight Championship goals so far this season

It is a normal summer's evening and your mum's home-cooked food is on the table, except for one big difference - Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson is round for dinner and he wants to sign you on loan.

An impressive 11 goals in 17 appearances later, you have won the EFL's Young Player of the Month award for September.

The 2016-17 season has already served up plenty of success for teenage striker Tammy Abraham - the kid who once needed a lift from Didier Drogba to get to training and has now helped lift Bristol City into the Championship's top six.

But is the form of the 19-year-old, on loan from Chelsea, remotely surprising to City boss Johnson? Not at all.

"We felt this was going to be his breakthrough year, whether it be with us or somebody else, so we made sure that we put ourselves at the front of the queue," Johnson told BBC Sport.

The loan has worked out well for both parties so far and Abraham netted five times in six appearances in all competitions in September.

"He's deserved it. He was superb," Johnson continued. "He's a constant threat for the Championship and teams need to take notice of him, and they have done, but he's still found a way.

"He's been there when we've needed him, whether it be with a tidy little finish or getting across his man or a poacher's goal."

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Abraham wants '30-plus' goals this term

But how important was Johnson's meal-time visit to the Abraham household in bringing the youngster to Ashton Gate from Chelsea?

"Particularly with a young player with top reputations, you have to get everybody to buy into it. They have to know the standards, as far as behaviour, that we expect," Johnson added.

"As soon as we met the family and we met Tammy, it was evident that we were going to get on great like a house on fire, because he is a footballer that likes playing football more than he loves being a footballer."

First impressions were crucial for Abraham, too, and after scoring 74 goals in 98 youth games for Chelsea at different age levels, Bristol City were inevitably not the only team interested.

"When I met the gaffer at the house and he introduced himself to my family, it really built that relationship," he said.

"I had a couple of other teams interested but as soon as I met the gaffer I set my mind to here. You have to go where your heart tells you to.

"When the gaffer believes in you, there is nothing better. He speaks to me literally every single day, keeps in touch and sees how I am doing. You really need that.

"When I don't score he says: 'This is not like you not to get a goal' and we have a few laughs. He tells me just to believe in myself and take confidence out on to the pitch."

Tammy Abraham
Of Tammy Abraham's 13 goals so far this season, 77% have been first-time finishes

Lessons to learn

Johnson takes a keen interest in Abraham's development and hopes he will leave Ashton Gate a more rounded player.

The former Barnsley and Oldham boss said: "He'll learn lessons - he's already had five or six lessons of serious note this season, in terms of tactical stuff, technical stuff and also the physical and mental side.

"The real test of a top player is how quickly they can learn those lessons. So far he has come through every challenge."

Asked what he needs to improve on, Abraham - whose 15-year-old brother Timmy is on the books with Charlton - replied: "Left-foot finishing.

"I need more left-footed goals. And shooting from outside the box - I need more variance of finishes.

"You're not going to get a chance every time in the box. After sessions, I keep working and practising with the left foot. Hopefully one day it'll just be fluent."

And working hard in training is something Abraham has admired in his idols, namely former Chelsea striker Drogba.

Drogba's helping hand

"Players like Didier Drogba, going to watch him play and seeing him off the pitch as well, I got to see how he was with the players and the youngsters," Abraham said of his early years with Chelsea.

"Growing up, he was a good idol. He's a bubbly, funny character. He likes to make people feel welcome. You need those kind of people, wherever you are.

"I remember one time, I couldn't get into the training ground. He saw me walking and he picked me up. He spoke to me and that's when I really got to know what he is like off the pitch."

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba scored 104 Premier League goals over two spells with Chelsea

But the presence of one of Drogba's long-term successors up front at Chelsea, Diego Costa, is one of many reasons why Abraham has made just two substitute appearances in the Premier League for the Blues.

Injuries meant that another teenage English striker, Marcus Rashford, was presented with a run of first-team games at Manchester United last season, shining enough at the top level to earn a place in the England squad at Euro 2016.

Former Tottenham manager David Pleat believes Abraham would have scored as many goals as Rashford if he had been given a similar chance.

"I'm certainly not going to argue with that," Johnson said. "Opportunity is the word and the most important element in any footballer's career - but of course then you've got to take it.

"I think this [loan move] is the right progression for Tammy, but you see Rashford and what a fantastic job he did for Manchester United and then England - I certainly put Tammy up there, when he is at his best, in that category."

Abraham's form for the Robins has already led to his breakthrough with the Under-21 side, scoring twice on his full debut against Bosnia-Herzegovina on 11 October.

"He's progressed quicker than maybe the England guys thought he would," Johnson added. "Tammy was ready - I just told him to go out and express himself. He was exceptional in the two goals that he scored."

And could Abraham play for England's senior team one day? "That's what I strive for and hopefully I will achieve that," the striker replied.

Tammy Abraham was speaking to BBC Radio Bristol's Geoff Twentyman - hear the full interview on Sound of the City on Monday, 31 October from 18:00 - 19:00 GMT.

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