20/03/2024 26comments  |  Jump to last

Already a star for Everton and arguably the hottest property when it comes to speculation around the upcoming transfer window, Jarrad Branthwaite is on the cusp of earning his England cap but developmental challenges almost caused him to give up the game as a blossoming teenager.

The pace of his growth caused him to develop Osgood-Schlatter disease in his knee which prevented him from playing for year during his teens and at a crucial juncture when it came to whethe or not Carlisle United would hand him a scholarship.

However, at the urging of his parents, Paul and Donna, the skinny Cumbrian doubled down and eventually convinced the club's coaches that he was good enough to prove correct their predictions that he could go on to great things. 

“They said I didn’t want to be a professional footballer enough and I think that stemmed from the injury I had the season before,” Branthwaite told Paul Joyce of The Times last December. “It was like a growing pain that I struggled with and they hadn’t seen me play, so they said I had six weeks to prove to them that I was good enough.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t really be bothered. If they don’t like me now, they won’t like me in six weeks.’ But my dad, Paul, said, ‘We have got to show them.’”

Joyce describes how, over the next six weeks, Branthwaite trained three times a week with Carlisle, played for them at the weekend and even did extra sessions at his local rugby club. At home, he adhered to a fitness programme devised by family friend and personal trainer, Cassie Crawford, while on the back of his bedroom door he had stuck testimonials from his coaches suggesting he had what it took to make it to the top.

“I do think about that time, think how it could have gone so differently,” he explained. “I felt a massive difference in my fitness levels and when I closed the door at night I would see all the things that had been said about me in the past. That gave me confidence that I had the ability to get the scholarship.

“All the credit goes to my dad, and my mam [Donna], for getting me in the right mindset so that if it didn’t work out I could say I had given it my all. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would be playing now."

On the advice of scouts John Doolan, Jamie Hoyland and Steve Davis, Everton plucked Jarrad from Carlisle in January 2020 for an initial fee of less than £1m.

At the time, he had made only nine senior starts for the Cumbrians but within months, he had made his first appearance for Everton in June during Project Restart and his full debut followed the next month in a Premier League win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

It's the season-long loan he spent at PSV Eindhoven last season, working with Marcel Brands, the sporting director who brought him to Goodison Park, and ex-Premier League striker Ruud van Nistelrooy who are credited as the launchpad for the stellar season he has had for the Toffees this season.

“[Ruud] was brilliant for me,” Branthwaite says of the Dutchman who convinced him to stay in Holland by assuring him he would get more game time over the second half of the 2022-23 season than he initially had. “At the midpoint in the season ... [h]e sat me down for half an hour and said I was going to play every game in the second half of the season ... I decided to trust him and it worked out well.

“He would speak to me about my body shape when defending and the importance of being side on, so that I am always ready to run back or be ready to press forward.

“He said if you don’t have the right body shape, you will get done because the Premier League is much faster. If they play it in behind and you are not side on, the striker will already be gone.”

In what has unquestionably his breakout campaign in England, he has been turning more heads with each passing game and is being talked about in terms of a mega-money move to a "big six" club, perhaps as early as this summer, with Everton's financial chaos widely expected to force the sale of one of their more saleable assets.

on himself, is not thought to be in any rush to leave Goodison, but in the meantime, the 6' 5" "Rolls-Royce" of a defender will have a huge part to play in keeping the Blues in the Premier League as their season resumes on 30th March at Bournemouth heads down the home straight of the final 10 games.

Quotes sourced from The Times

Reader Comments (26)

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Edward Rogers
1 Posted 21/03/2024 at 00:05:43
Never been so excited to see how a player will develop, career-wise, since Rooney. Just wish it could be with us but unfortunately it won't.
Dean Williams
2 Posted 21/03/2024 at 00:12:54
Could have seen more of him earlier, if the wanker Dyche didn't have a love-in with Keane The Titanic at the start of the season.
Rob Jones
3 Posted 21/03/2024 at 00:26:04
Dean, I'm curious how your remarks are in any way productive.
Bill Gall
4 Posted 21/03/2024 at 00:52:07
I wonder if any other talented youths gave up because they never had the same encouragement and backing?

It's a credit to his parents who at first realized he had a future in the game, and must be excited at the development he has made.

I believe the Everton scouts at the time need congratulations as they must have realized his potential talent.

Derek Knox
5 Posted 21/03/2024 at 01:54:55
I just love this guy, No, not in that sense, I'm technically old enough to be his Grandad, but don't look like Clive Dunn, or do I?

Seriously, we have a Bargain Basement player on our hands, and at such a young age, alongside Tarkowski, they have formed a formidable partnership, which, is reflected in our very decent defence stats.

Can we hang to him in these money-orientated days of the Premier League? A lot goes on behind the scenes which we, who used to be the life-blood of the club, are rarely, if never, a party to. If they see him as a saleable asset, over someone, if we have genuine aspirations to hang on to at all costs, and we build equally talented bargain players, albeit in different positions around him!

Well, I can dream, can't I?

Kieran Kinsella
6 Posted 21/03/2024 at 02:47:37

I'm no fan of Keane the player, as distinct from Keane the man, who seems like a great bloke. But you've got an England international with about 300 Premier League games to his name who previously worked successfully enough with Dyche to get a £25M move to Everton.

Then you've got a kid who got a handful of appearances before being shipped off to the same Dutch league where Davy Klaassen was a superstar.

It's a bit harsh to bash Dyche for not starting Branthwaite sooner as he pretty quickly realized he was better and he's been a regular starter ahead of Keane for most of the season.

It's easy after the fact to say coulda shoulda woulda but, last summer, Branthwaite was unproven potential.

Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 21/03/2024 at 06:32:38
That season at PSV was great for him.

I love watching him play. He is class and at 21 is only going to get better.

My first memory of him was him coming in at the back post in front of the travelling blues to hit the equaliser and send the crowd wild. I think he was only 19.

I hope we enjoy him for a few more seasons and maybe more.

I have just commented on the Jordan Pickford thread about comparing players.

No two are the same, but you can draw comparisons. When John Stones came through, I drew comparisons to Alan Hansen (forgive me Father for I have sinned!).

Well, now I would draw comparisons with Jarrad to Stones. Maybe he doesn't get as far forward, but that could be down to how Everton are currently set up to play.

Great defender, composed and comfortable on the ball. There's not much not to like about him.

Dean Williams
8 Posted 21/03/2024 at 07:24:40

Keane had been an unmitigated disaster for the past 2 seasons, yet Dyche persisted with his favourites.

It was fan pressure that got him out the team.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 21/03/2024 at 07:43:23
Dean, I've been a critic of Keane for years, I won't deny or retract that.

I don't know him as a person, but he seems a balanced individual. If I can say, a player that didn't live up to the early expectations and potential. He switches off too much and doesn't have great powers of recovery.

He lacks anticipation and doesn't read the game. At the time, Burnley got a tune of £30M out of us. I always rib my Manchester mates that in Harry Maguire, they bought an expensive Michael Keane.

All said, I can't know his effort. And in terms of the past couple of seasons, his goal against Palace put us on the path for survival. Likewise, his last-minute screamer against Tottenham.

Edward Rogers
10 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:18:42
I asked the question on a previous thread, but does anyone know if Carlisle are due a percentage of any sell-on fee for Jarrad, and if so, how much? (International call-up, etc.)

On another note, I assume we inserted a similar clause when we sold Gordon, like most well-run clubs would do????

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 21/03/2024 at 08:26:14
Perhaps if Michael Keane, would have gone to Holland and was given a few “simple instructions” by Van Nistelrooy, he might have learned how to defend side-on?

Everyone has doubts sometimes, I'm just glad that Branthwaite recovered from such a debilitating injury, which I now consider to be a schizophrenic injury, given its nature and how it usually only affects children in their very tender teenage years.

I never expected to see him back at Everton once he went to PSV but the giveaway for anyone still not convinced by Jarrad's talent was that the Dutch side were prepared to break their record transfer fee to sign this very talented kid.

He is still getting caused a few problems by the odd big powerful centre-forward but I'm certain that Brainthwaith is going right to the top of the tree. Good luck to him, because he seems like a humble kid with no airs or graces.

Danny O’Neill
12 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:02:48
That's a good point, Tony. Putting him in a different environment may have done him good when younger. Like Branthwaite, more English players are spending time on the continent as part of their football development.

I've tried to lay off Keane a bit. He is what he is and, at 31, he's not going to get any better than he is now. I don't doubt his commitment, I just wish he wouldn't watch the ball go over his head so much.

Jarrad is still very young and will get bullied but he generally stands up to it well. Like all young players and footballers, he will make mistakes along the way, so let's be patient with him. He has the perfect mentor in Tarkowski next to him. Well, as good as we can have right now.

Wait until he is about 26. He's going to be something. You can see it now.

Jerome Shields
13 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:03:09
Keane — £80,000 per week

Branthwaite — £15,000 per week

Everton have tended to pick players to play according to the wages they pay them, until it becomes apparent that they were never worth the contract they signed. But picking them can go on a little longer hoping that some other fool will come in and offer something and be prepared to pay their full wages. This has never happened.

Put another way, who is going to tell Moshiri, a so-called accountant, that a player we paid all that money in fees and contract for i a dude? There are a number of players with Everton who are picked on that criteria.

Good Luck to Branthwaite. Resilience and ability to long way, and deservingly so.

Rob Dolby
14 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:11:16
Bill @4, Thousands of young very talented kids walk away from the game at that age.

Lazy coaching and no safety net sees more talent leaving the game than making the grade. Not everyone can make it but we are losing talent just on the law of averages alone.

Jarrad's growing pains in his knees are a common thing which can rumble on for years. Lots of teams won't be bothered and just move on to a kid that isn't injured.

Surprise, surprise. John Doolan, the scout in question, now works for Brighton. A local lad who was a Blue and knows the game inside out walks away. Mick Doherty was another that went to Chelsea I think.

We have a system that produces resilient footballers; we don't have a system that produces world-class talent.

How can Croatia, Uruguay or Holland keep producing world-class talent? Whilst we keep producing Jordan Henderson types?

It's only the likes of Guardiola with his coaching team that is having the major influence on producing talent in the English game.

Richard Duff
15 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:21:08
I'm actually struggling to write these words, but the player Jarrad reminds me of most is Virgil van Dijk. His reading of the game, positioning, spacial awareness, aerial dominance and recovery speed are all similar.

He is and will be a great player; well done to him and his family for giving themselves the chance.

Let's enjoy him for the remaining 10 games we can afford to have him.

Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:24:36
Rob @14,

Don't start me!!

I had first hand experience in Germany, Croatia and Holland.

Totally different philosophy with focus on the football.

The Germans a bit different as they are sort of what we would like to be. Physical but technical and comfortable on the ball. My word, having played there, the man marking was relentless. You literally got followed around the pitch.

It goes back to whether the academy system in it's current guise is fit for purpose in my opinion and does it serve football and grass roots or lends itself to the elitism that the Premier League has established?

There is plenty of talent out there, although I do dismay watching the so called coaching on the parks.

The aim should be to keep the kids interested in football at whatever level. A very low percentage will make it to the top, but there are plenty of clubs at various levels with places for talented youngsters and then can enjoy the game and maybe work their way up the pyramid.

Too many drop out if they don't get their dream having played too much Playstation and watched Sky.

Apologies for my cynicism.

Just enjoy football, the beautiful game. I still do.

Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:43:24
As usual, I agreed with most of your post @14 Rob, but I'm hopeful that the English are now producing better all-round footballers now that the academy system has really begun to kick in.

It doesn't mean I totally agree with the academy system, because I don't, especially because I sometimes perceive there to be a lack of innovation and this constant need to just mould these young players into a system, and this makes me relate to your paragraphs two & three!

John Dolan, born a blue, raised a blue, played for Everton's younger teams, had a successful career in the lower divisions, and yet chose to leave Everton for Brighton. What does this tell us about the way the club has been getting run on the recruitment side?

Colin Callaghan
18 Posted 21/03/2024 at 10:48:21

You act like we are the only ones who control the clauses of the Gordon deal.

If we put the clause that we receive something if Gordon gets called up, then Newcastle have every right to lower the up-front price.

It really has nothing to do with being well run but who is in a position of power during negotiations. I not only believe we were not in that position of power but we should not want to leave any money on the table in a situation where we are trying to prove we didn't lose any money that year.

Now that would be running the club poorly. Being forced to sell a player to balance the books and you accept a credit. Dear me.

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:09:35
Rob (14) and Tony (17),

I think the case with John Dolan and Everton was that Everton gave John a promotion, a word change promotion, when John asked them what the wage rise was they told him the wages were staying as they were but his title was changing.

Brighton wanted John and he didn't have a hard choice to make!!

Mal van Schaick
20 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:53:37
I would like to see Jarrad stay with Everton for the length of his career. Pickford must have had other options, but has stuck with us.

Everton is a great club and we all hope that eventually we will bring back the success of the past, starting with the new stadium.

Roger Helm
21 Posted 21/03/2024 at 16:56:29
Mal, I agree, but that type of mindset is rare these days. A footballer's career is short and insecure, so who can blame them for taking the chance to win more caps, trophies and big paychecks?

It seems Jarrad was handled very well as a youth, as so many boys are permanently damaged by overplaying in their teens. A move to a big rich club at some time in the future will be probably best for the player and for Everton, given our financial mismanagement in recent years. Sad, as I am old enough to remember when we were the ones hoovering up smaller clubs' talent.

Charles Ward
22 Posted 22/03/2024 at 11:14:31
I think more young footballers are being diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter and it's a credit to each club's medical staff for diagnosing the problem and letting their bodies cope without excessive training.

In other news, Real Madrid are the latest to show an interest in Jarrad Branthwaite but seem to want to part-exchange some of their unwanted players as part of the deal.

Si Cooper
23 Posted 22/03/2024 at 00:07:05
I see the squad and coaches as having an opportunity to go for broke in a 10-game streak and produce the goods that will banish the spectre of relegation, irrespective of another (moderate) points deduction, give the fans their ‘buzz' back, and hopefully convince young Jarrad that he can spend another couple of seasons (at least) at EFC.

If we simply get repetition of what has gone before, then the lad should be wanting out as soon as possible as we will be holding him back.

Hopefully the mindset is right in spite of any frictions that may have been evident during the last 3 weeks.

Dean Johnson
24 Posted 23/03/2024 at 07:27:49
I love watching Jarrad but he still has a long way to go.

However, I cannot see any more prospects like him coming through our youth setup. Why?

Because we bought him, we didn't bring him through. I mean where are the tons of scousers all dying to play for the badge?

Our academy is not fit for purpose, that's why our scouts left.

Andrew Merrick
25 Posted 23/03/2024 at 16:44:33
This guy adds an extra interest for me, pointless friendly games don't have the same edge, at any level, come on my son, watching Jarrad grow as a player is just brilliant.
Nick Armitage
26 Posted 25/03/2024 at 20:53:51
I knew he was a player the first time I saw his positioning and body shape, he just knows how to defend.

And that's why he'll go to the top and that's why we'll end up with Micheal Keane as first choice next season.

Depressing and inevitable.

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