Sheffield Wednesday: How the lure of Arsenal proved just too great for one-time Owls target Cohen Bramall

Arsene Wenger and Carlos Carvalhal
Arsene Wenger and Carlos Carvalhal
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It is an extraordinary rags-to-riches footballing fairytale.

A month ago, Cohen Bramall enjoyed a trial spell at Sheffield Wednesday. The young left-back featured in the Owls development squad’s 2-0 victory over Birmingham City.

Wednesday’s coaching staff liked what they saw and the Championship club expressed an interest in bringing the player on a permanent basis from Northern Premier League Premier Division outfit Hednesford Town.

But Bramall caught the eye of Arsenal scout Brian McDermott in the Owls Under-23s match and the Premier League heavyweights moved quickly to finalise a £40,000 deal for the 20-year-old last week.

Development squad boss Neil Thompson told The Star: “Cohen played against Birmingham and did very well.

“At the end of the day, regardless of what we wanted to do, Arsenal are one of the top clubs in the country. There was an Arsenal scout at the game and obviously they decided to do something with him. They are a big club and that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Owls coach Neil Thompson

Owls coach Neil Thompson

Bramall was made redundant from his his £400-a-week job as a factory worker at Bentley Motors in Crewe a day before Arsenal invited him to take part in a two-day trial. The full-back initially thought the phone call from the Gunners was a wind-up.

“I got made redundant from Bentley Motors and then on the Wednesday, Arsenal came in and I was gobsmacked so took the chance with both hands,” said Bramall.

“Drove down on the Wednesday night and then trained on the Thursday and Friday. The standard was insane. It was as sharp as anything.

“They kept the ball and popped it around so well. It was an absolute honour to be a part of it and everyone was so welcoming. Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chuba Akpom helped me through the whole thing. I felt like I did well.

“Then they offered me a deal.

“My mouth dropped, I looked at my agent. It was a pretty emotional response really. I just couldn’t believe it… couldn’t believe it. I just thought ‘yes!’

“It’s incredible. Incredible.”

He became Arsenal’s first signing of the January transfer window.

“It’s a dream come true,” admitted Bramall.

As well as training with global superstars such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Bramall is reportedly earning around £3,000 per week.

Thompson, whose Wednesday side trounced Bolton Wanderers 4-1 on Monday, added: “Cohen is at the start of his journey so good luck to him. I hope he does well.”

Blessed with devastating pace, the non-league prodigy donned an Arsenal shirt for the first time on Monday night. Bramall, who represented Nantwich, Alsager Town, Newcastle Town and Market Drayton Town before moving to Hednesford last summer, started for the Gunners Under-23 team as they battled back from a goal down to beat Southampton 3-1.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is predicting a bright future for Bramall.

“I believe he has fantastic physical qualities, he has a good level of motivation because he has gone down and come up again,” he said.

“[He has] to prepare, to challenge the first-team players as quickly as he can. That could be in a very short period of time.”

“He has the ingredients: the timing of his runs is very good, he has decent technique and exceptional pace. These are very important ingredients today.

“He was an athlete before and he came late to the game and that’s why I believe in him. Can he manage the tactical aspect and the technical aspect? Physically, he will be top level.”