Branthwaite: My Blues Ambition

When you accomplish something notable in your career, it is natural to reflect on everything that made it possible.

It’s not a case of basking in the moment, more just allowing yourself to catch your breath and enjoy the achievement before refocusing and pushing on.

I couldn’t tell you what was going through my head when I scored at Chelsea last week, only that there was a release of pure emotion. I remember my knee slide and looking up to see the fans going barmy. That’s it.

My dad called when we were on the bus home and it was brilliant to have that time talking to him.

I owe everything to my parents. Their support for me as a kid was unreal, getting me all over the country for away matches, or to Penrith Frenchfield Sports Centre on a Sunday, if it was a home game for Carlisle.

They devoted so much time to my football and I will always be thankful to them.

I signed professional terms with Carlisle when I was 16, so, on the face of it, my progress probably looks straightforward. It was anything but.

When I was around 14, I suffered with Osgood-Schlatter disease. The condition causes inflammation just beneath the knee, where the tendon from the kneecap attaches to the shinbone. It is often caused by growth spurts and that was the case with me.

I was out for 12-18 months, on and off, and couldn’t run for a lot of that period.

When it came to decision-time for scholarships, Carlisle said I had six weeks to show them how much I wanted it – and that I was good enough. I learned a bit about pressure early on, then.

The jump from academy football to League Two was something else. I made my debut in a game at Plymouth Argyle, with more than 8,000 in the ground.

Playing in front of crowds and for meaningful points was a completely different dynamic from what I’d been used to.

Players are clever and know how to use their bodies and I had to adapt very quickly to the physicality, It was a steep learning curve.

My time on loan in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers last season was valuable for the same reasons. It is competitive and unforgiving and toughens you up.

To think I’ve gone from Carlisle to playing for Everton is incredible.

Jarrad Branthwaite
When people ask my greatest ambition in the game, the answer is simple: to play for Everton in the Premier League.

I’ve been told there’s more kids back in Wigton, where I grew up, wearing Everton shirts than dressing in Carlisle kits.

I don’t know how true that is – but I would love to be an inspiration for children from the area. A lot of them are football daft and, hopefully, they can look at me and see there is a pathway to the Premier League.

Not that I have remotely made it, yet. I have such a long way to go. When people ask my greatest ambition in the game, the answer is simple: to play for Everton in the Premier League.

We have some fantastic talent coming through and an awful lot of quality in our squad.

Belief is growing and with confidence and the right mentality, we will show what we’re capable of doing. We have a top manager, who has everything we need. He is always talking to me about ways to improve and showing me clips and is a huge influence on my development.

There has been uncertainty around games with the COVID situation and we have so many measures in place at the Club to try to control it. I am double vaccinated to protect myself and those around me.

We've had a couple of postponements, which is disappointing but unavoidable in the circumstances. It would have been great to experience Boxing Day Premier League football for the first time but our focus now goes to the Newcastle game. 

We'll approach it with the right attitude and a winning mentality. It's an opportunity to try to start generating momentum at Goodison Park and get on a positive run.

It was nice to have the chance to look back on the goal and performance at Chelsea. Now it is time to train hard, focus and push on.