England Under-21s defender Jarrad Branthwaite was close to giving up on football
Jarrad Branthwaite has just helped PSV Eindhoven to Champions League qualification and the Dutch Cup, but the defender was just six weeks away from not having a football career.
The 20-year-old spent last season on loan at the Eredivisie club from Everton and excelled, playing 36 times in all competitions and leaving with silverware, which was enough to earn him a call-up for the England Under-21s squad for this summer’s Euro 2023 tournament in Romania and Georgia.
But it could have been so different just four years ago when his boyhood club Carlisle gave him a six-week ultimatum to prove he was worthy of a professional contract.
Branthwaite, whose development was hindered by knee condition Osgood-Schlatter, felt close to giving up but it was his dad Paul who pushed him.
“When I was at Carlisle at 16, it was a scholarship and they said to me that I had six weeks to prove that I wanted to get a professional contract,” he said.
“I went through a stage where I was like ‘do I really want to do it?’ And he said ‘yeah, come on, you have to do it’. So I think he’s influenced me to get to where I am today.
“I would probably say I was close to giving up. They said they didn’t think I had it in me to get a professional contract so they gave me six weeks.
“My dad Paul gave me a training programme to do and after the six weeks, I got given a contract. The programme was just to work on my fitness and things and strength to give myself the best chance to get that contract.
“It was back at home in the gym and stuff to make sure that if I looked back and had regrets, it would kick me, you know? So it was to make sure I gave my all and even if I didn’t get it, I could say I tried my best.
“I told him thanks for it. It’ll be a proud moment for him if I play for England here at a major tournament.”
His career path has sky rocketed since then and he has become hot property, with a host of top European clubs reported to be interested in signing him this summer.
But he has hinted that a return to Goodison Park could be on the cards as he eyes a Premier League career.
“You’ve got to set your goals. To play in the Premier League continuously is a big thing for every player,” he added.
“When I left Carlisle for Everton, it was my goal to play in the Premier League. I think every kid’s goal is 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.
“It’s just about hard work. You’ve got to keep working hard every day, give yourself the best possible chance and perform on the pitch.
“It’s been a good, successful year for me. I moved abroad to PSV and was just looking to play games and to develop as a player.
“Over the year I’ve done that. I’ve played 36 games overall so it was a good learning curve for me, getting regular game time which is the first time in my career I’ve done that. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a good experience.”