Cohen Bramall: "I'd never seen a mannequin in my life until I got to Arsenal"
One day he was on his way to a trial with Shrewsbury – the next he was training with Mesut Ozil. The 22-year-old former factory worker tells FourFourTwo all about his "mentally tough" first six months at Arsenal
We’d call it a Cinderella tale, but we’re pretty sure Cinders didn’t get laid off by a car manufacturer (although Arsene Wenger would make a great Fairy Godmother). Cohen Bramall made headlines this year as the left-back - who’d been dividing his time playing for non-league Hednesford Town and working for Bentley - signed for one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
He opens up about his remarkable move in a new FourFourTwo video, while also looking back on his unusual journey to the top.
“When I got made redundant, I was hoping I could get a full-time club ASAP,” he reflects. “I didn’t even start to look at jobs because I was 100% focused on football. My previous manager, Liam McDonald drilled it into me that I was the best left-back in the National League, so thanks to him. If it wasn’t for him, I might not be here.”
‘Here’ is Arsenal, and what’s striking is how quickly things changed for the now-22-year-old. A trial with Sheffield Wednesday U23s had been watched by Arsenal scout Brian McDermott, who called Bramall’s agent. The following morning, he was training with Arsenal’s first team.
“I got chucked into a 5-vs-5 with some of the best players in the world, like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech. It was crazy," Bramall told FourFourTwo. "The tempo and movement was outstanding. It was a special moment for me.
“A lot of Arsenal’s players have been brought up on proper technical training sessions, whereas I’d grown up kicking a ball against a fence with my mates. The first few weeks were hard and mentally tough. I’d never seen a mannequin in my life and then I was training with mannequins, cones and all sorts of equipment. I’ve got the gist of it now.”
Hit play on the below to discover more about Cohen’s fascinating story.
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Alex Reid is a freelance journalist and the former digital features editor at FourFourTwo. He has also written for the Guardian, talkSPORT, Boxing News and Sport magazine. Like most Londoners, he is a lifelong supporter of Aberdeen FC. He is deceptively bad in the air for a big man. He has never been a cage fighter.
By Conor Pope
By Conor Pope