Tammy Abraham has opened his heart about the racist abuse that pushed him to his lowest point in football.
Vicious Twitter trolls piled on the Chelsea youngster after he missed the decisive penalty in their Super Cup Final shoot-out loss to Liverpool in Istanbul last August.
Abraham has since gone on to become the club’s top scorer this season with 15 goals – but admits the abuse he received almost broke him.
England star Abraham said: “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.”
Still just 22, Abraham was desperate to impress after returning from a successful loan with Aston Villa, where he scored 26 goals in the Championship.
But he admits he retreated into his shell after his final heartbreak, saying: “I wanted everyone to leave me alone, I was in tears. 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.
“As a striker, you need to have that confidence. Being Chelsea’s No 9, you’ve got big boots to fill.
“I remember walking up and the pressure got to me. I had what I wanted to do in my head but I changed my mind in the run-up.
“Afterwards in the changing room, everyone came round me saying: ‘Don’t worry, it happens to the best players,’ but at the time I just didn’t want to hear it.”
Abraham claims he first learned how to toughen up on loan at Swansea in 2017/18 when he was still a teenager.
He scored only five times as his team got relegated, but has gone from strength to strength ever since.
He said: “At Swansea, I had very few chances. If I didn’t take them I knew that was it. That’s my only chance and I didn’t take it. It was hard to take.
“I lost a lot of confidence, I was beating myself up a lot. It was my first Premier League experience and it was tough.138208672551
“That was something I had to learn about really quick because it was so different from playing for the Chelsea youth teams.
“I know my abilities and what I’m capable of doing. Thankfully, I went to a good club like Villa, I could build that confidence back and do my thing there.
“I need to believe that I’m the man, that I can score and do well for the team. You need that feeling going into every game.”