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Published 03 June 2024 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Jarrad Branthwaite: My grassroots story

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Jarrad Branthwaite

The centre-back discusses his rise to the England squad, including a childhood battle with illness

Even as a kid I was always kicking anything around the house. I remember kicking these rubber shapes around my living room.

But my first proper football experience will have been when I went to Carlisle United. I was nine when I joined the academy. I was a Carlisle fan as a kid, it was my home, and they were the big club that was playing in the leagues. I was from Wigton, which is a small town 15 minutes from there. It's a really small village and I went to three schools there and grew up with all my mates who I still speak to now.

Funnily enough I had a message from a teacher at Wigton Infants School, Miss Hare, who told me when I was there I would play for England. I had some good teachers along the way and I still train with a few of them in the off-season. It's nice for them I think that someone from Wigton is doing well in football.

30 May 2024 14:40

EUROs training camp arrivals

Watch behind the scenes as the Three Lions arrive for their pre-EUROs training camp

My first team was Abbeytown. I remember going to my first session aged eight and I didn't want to train. After a few sessions I got into it and after one season I signed for Carlisle. Before that stage I was a football fan but I was doing all sports I could. I wasn't very confident about my football and it was my dad who said I should properly give it a try. I had to stop playing for them once Carlisle started properly. The academy stuff kicked in and we trained twice a week and games on Sundays.

Aged 14 I suffered from Osgood-Schlatter disease, which was a huge setback at that time. I was out for 18 months. The first 12 I literally couldn't do anything, I was in that much pain, and then the last six months I was building back up but I still couldn't train on astroturf through the week because it was such a hard surface. On Saturday we'd train on grass and I'd play maybe 20 minutes of the game on Sunday just to stay involved. It was a difficult period because once my scholarship ended they said they hadn't really seen enough of me and they'd give me a four-week trial to show myself. I didn't really want to do that but again my dad said I should give it my all and then I'd have no regrets.

Jarrad Branthwaite in action for Carlisle in November 2019

I was a central midfielder until the Under-16s at Carlisle and it was one game where I played for the reserves where it changed. I moved into centre-back and I played well and enjoyed it. Ever since then it's where I've played. If it wasn't for that game then maybe I wouldn't have moved and I wouldn't be here so it shows how little things in football made a big difference.

I made my Carlisle debut aged 16 under Stephen Pressley. He set me on the path I'm on now. I played 15 games and signed for Everton. It happened quite quickly. And the last year of my career things have taken off. If you said to me at the start of the 2023/24 season that I'd have played as many games as I have for Everton I wouldn't have believed you. It's been a whirlwind of a season. I went to PSV on loan the season before and that helped me bring it this season. Sean Dyche has been massive for me. He gave me an opportunity and he's stuck with me throughout. I can only thank him for that.

Jarrad Branthwaite and Phil Foden in England training
Jarrad Branthwaite and Phil Foden in England training
The main thing throughout my journey is the love of the game. If you don't have that then you're not going to get anywhere. I think it gave me different experiences and it's got me to where I am today.

Read Kobbie Mainoo's grassroots story