JARRAD BRANTHWAITE almost gave up his football dream at 16.
Growing pains left Carlisle believing he would never make it as a pro.
Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite has shone on loan for PSV Eindhoven[/caption]
Branthwaite’s progress as a youngster was severely hampered by a condition called Osgood-Schlatter that causes pain and swelling below the knee joint.
It meant he could not run, let alone train, for over a year when he was 15.
He was ready to abandon the game as a future career, when home town club Carlisle gave him six weeks to win a professional contract.
But his dad Paul, who hopes to watch his son out in Georgia over the next fortnight, convinced the teenager to give it all he had in that short time.
The outcome was successful, as he won a deal with Carlisle, which led to a Goodison Park move.
Branthwaite, who won his first Under-21s cap in a behind-closed-doors friendly defeat by Japan on Saturday, reflected: “There were two years where I literally did nothing. I couldn’t train or anything.
“My knees were gone because I had grown so quick. I couldn’t run, it was so painful.
“Carlisle said they didn’t think I had it in me to get a professional contract, so they gave me six weeks to prove to them I was good enough.
“I went through a stage where I was like, ‘Do I really want to do it?’ I would probably say I was thinking of giving up.
“But dad said, ‘Come on, you have to do it’. He gave me a training programme to do at home in the gym to work on my fitness and strength to give myself the best chance to get that contract.
“After the six weeks, I got a contract. So I think he’s influenced me to get to where I am today. It’ll be a proud moment for him if I play for England here at a major tournament.”
Branthwaite would probably have become a PE teacher had football not worked out — thankfully it did.
He only played a handful of games for the Cumbrians before Everton snapped him up in January 2020.
A loan to the Championship with Blackburn followed before his breakthrough this season with Eindhoven.
On his future, Branthwaite added: “Having the experience I’ve had in Holland, it’s opened my eyes to other clubs. But I’m focused on the Euros this summer and then after that we can go from there.
“When I left Carlisle for Everton, it was my goal to play in the Premier League. That would be my main ambition.
“Just to solidify myself in a team in the Premier League at Everton and play as many games as I can.”
Branthwaite looks up to Stones as the example of how comfortable modern-day centre-backs should be with the ball at their feet.
He added: “I watched him in the Champions League final, even though he plays midfield sometimes, his ability on the ball is unbelievable.
“For a modern centre-back, that’s what you look for.”
England start their campaign on Thursday against the Czech Republic.