Peter Withe has congratulated Tammy Abraham for hitting his goal milestone – and urged him to now fire Aston Villa back to the Premier League.
Withe says he’s a big fan of Abraham as both a player and a person, having chatted to him numerous times during visits to Bodymoor Heath.
He’s delighted that the 20-goal mark – last achieved by Withe in 1980/81 - has finally been matched after Abraham’s goal against Sheffield United.
The likes of Christian Benteke, Juan Pablo Angel, David Platt and Jonathan Kodjia have all gone close over the past 38 years – but now Abraham has done it.
Withe is thrilled – but also wants it to mean something at the end of the season.
He said: “It’s a big well done to Tammy.
“I always said that when someone did finally hit 20 goals that I want it to count for something. With myself it was the League Championship. For Tammy, now, I hope it’s promotion back to the Premier League.
“I’ve had people say to me ‘it’s not in the top-flight’. I always reply ‘yes, but it’s still a big achievement and shouldn’t be underestimated.’
“To see those goals get us into the top six and then promotion would definitely be the icing on the cake with it all.
“To see him score the goals and get promotion would make me a very happy man. It would be ideal.
“I’m in Australia at the moment but when I come home, I do like to get to Bodymoor Heath and I enjoy watching the boys train. I follow how they do. I have spoken to Tammy a couple of times. He seems a lovely lad, a great guy, good personality. He’s down-to-earth.
“I have great respect for him, too, because he had the chance to go to the Premier League but he chose to stay with us here at Villa. I’d like to think that’s because he can achieve something here. I’m very pleased with that.
“I like the way he plays. He gets a lot of chances and he could really have had even more goals. I think Tammy is a good lad, has a lot to offer, and is also mobile and I think he will improve even more. He’s willing to learn and get better.”
Abraham now has 20 goals – with 15 games remaining.
Withe says he should be aiming very high as he looks to continue his superb scoring form.
He continued: “Now he’s past 20, his mindset should be ‘right I still have this amount of games left, let’s get to 30’ and really set the record. It’s an opportunity for him, definitely.”
Withe is confident of success with Dean Smith at the helm as he also spoke glowingly of the Head Coach, who has a special affinity with the club.
He added: “I feel it’s going in the right direction. I think Dean has the club at heart because he was a supporter of the club.
“I have spoken to him since he took over and he realises he has the ultimate job. Let’s hope we can do it now.
“The key point is that if you can put a run together of wins, things change so quickly and you can be right up there.
“We need to focus on picking up those three points week after week and getting ourselves in that top six. Then, who knows from there?”