Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite has revealed he was close to quitting football as a teenager because of growing pains.
Speaking to The Sun, the centre-back revealed his struggles with a condition called Osgood-Schlatter, which causes pain and swelling below the knee joint.
Branthwaite couldn’t run or train for over a year, which caused him to consider abandoning football all together at only 16.
However, the youngster was handed a lifeline when his hometown club Carlisle gave him six weeks to win a professional contract.
“There were two years where I literally did nothing. I couldn’t train or anything,” Branthwaite said.
“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.
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“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 only played 12 games for Carlisle before he was snapped up by Everton in 2020.
However, the 20-year-old’s breakout season didn’t come until he joined PSV on loan two and a half years later. The defender was a regular in the Eredivisie and earned himself a place in the England U21 squad ahead of the Euros.
Branthwaite’s success in the Netherlands has led to interest from AS Roma, according to the Daily Mail.
However, Sean Dyche’s side will be eager to keep hold of the youngster and give him a chance to shine at Goodison Park next season.
Jarrad Branthwaite is the future of Everton
Everton would make a decent profit on the defender that they paid around £1 million for three years ago, however allowing him to leave the club would be a huge mistake.
With Yerry Mina leaving the club this summer and Conor Coady returning to Wolves, Jarrad Branthwaite is exactly the player the Toffees need in the heart of their defence.
The young star has a great understanding of the club and is clearly a hard-working, dedicated professional who will play for the shirt and the fans – not just for the money.
Branthwaite has the talent that Everton’s defence lack and he could arguably tie down that role for years to come if they can keep hold of him.
No amount of money should prove tempting for the Toffees – they need to learn from their mistakes.