Crewe footballer Cohen Bramall reflects on whirlwind Arsenal signing, being released and career in the game

A professional footballer from Crewe made redundant at Bentley just days before he signed for Premier League giants Arsenal has reflected on how his career has panned out over the past few years as he seeks a route back to the top of the game. Cohen Bramall played non-league football part-time around South Cheshire - including spells at Kidsgrove Athletic, Nantwich Town, Market Drayton Town and Newcastle Town - as well as briefly at Crewe Alex when he was a youngster. In late 2016, he was playing for Hednesford Town, while also working at Bentley on Pyms Lane in Crewe.

He had a whirlwind end to the year though when he was informed by the luxury car manufacturer that his services would no longer be required. But not long after he received that news, he heard that legendary then-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had seen him playing for Hednesford and wanted him to spend a few days on trial with the North London club. It would work out well for the now 23-year-old and, having also had trials with Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday, he penned a deal for two-and-a-half year deal with Premier League outfit Arsenal.

And it is a time the defender will never forget, due to it coinciding with his parents' anniversary.

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Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "Where I'm from, Crewe, there isn't a lot of big well paid jobs. You've either got Bentley or the railway - that's it. You've got Bentley or the railway or you're going to work in Manchester doing something, and I relied on Bentley and part-time football.

"I got made redundant in that week and then it was literally two days later and I got a call from an agent saying that Arsene Wenger and Brian McDermott have seen you and they want you to come down on trial, so I trialled Thursday and Friday, and then they offered me the deal on the 23rd of December, because that's my mum and dad's anniversary day. "So I had to ring my mum and dad driving back, buzzing back up north. I said 'mum, they've me a two-and-a-half year deal' on my mum and dad's anniversary date - no-one knows that either.

They were going mad, obviously mum was crying, dad was crying in work. "I remember he was on his forklift truck, I rang him and he picked up the phone on his forklift truck, going nuts."

Cohen Bramall of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on April 26, 2019 in London, England.

Bramall unfortunately never played for the Gunners first team and was released by the Emirates Stadium club last summer. Legendary Arsenal boss Wenger stood down from his role in 2018 while Bramall was on loan at Championship side Birmingham City.

And he admitted things were never quite the same for him at Arsenal after the Frenchman decided to call it a day - but Bramall will always be grateful for the opportunity he was given and how he was treated by the long time Gunners boss. He said: "That will always stick with me, especially Arsene Wenger taking me under his wing and giving me the opportunity to play with the first team on pre-season tour. "Things didn't work out how I wanted them to work out, he left and it wasn't the best.

I was on loan at Birmingham at the time and it was hard for me to take in. When I got home, I just didn't feel right. "I remember signing on the day and I remember speaking to him and he blew me away because I didn't expect it.

I remember my agent saying to me 'even if you don't get nothing from this and even if they don't offer you anything, you've got the experience to go and work with these players and for me, one of the best managers at the time'. I didn't expect anything.

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"I remember on the Friday we did sprinting and I just thought that's my time to shine with the first time. That's my time  just to open up my legs and show what I've got without the ball.

I remember him watching me, I remember him clocking me on the pitch and he's just always been welcoming and warm towards me, so I thought he's just blessed me really. That's the word, for me - I think he's just blessed me and my whole family and particularly me. "I started with the under 23s and he helped me prepare for the pre-season tour with the other lads, and I just thought I can't repay him for what he's done for me.

He's just made me a better player, that's all I can say and I think a better human being as well." Since being released by Arsenal, Bramall is now rebuilding his career at League Two Colchester United, and recently turned out for the Essex side in their Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood (left) and Colchester United's Cohen Bramall (right) during the Carabao Cup quarter final match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

And now back playing football regularly, he has his sights on becoming the best full-back in the world and get back to playing at the highest level he can as soon as possible. He said: "The first six months at Arsenal is the happiest I've been in football, because I'm playing week in week out, and I'm training with some of the best players in the world.

I've got a gaffer who puts his arm around me and talks to me every day, so for me at 21, I don't know what's better than that. "I think right now, especially for me, it's just being happy and playing football because I think once you stop playing football, I think it ain't the same. Even coming back home, when you're not playing, it's just not the same feeling.

"I think if I had the opportunity to take the money or playing, 100% I would play, all day long, because getting an assist or getting a goal, you don't get that feeling. It's a drug. When you score or you get an assist or when you help the team win, it's the best feeling in the world.

"I want to be the best full-back in the world. I'm just a winner, I'm passionate and I just want to win and I want to get to the highest level as fast as possible. "I've come to the game late and I look at my mates who are younger than me who are at a higher level, but I'm thinking I'm 23, it's possible.

I can get there now. I've been there, I've dropped, I've took a step back, but I'm ready to go again for the next challenge. Anything that comes at me, I'm ready."     

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