'When Arsene left it changed everything' - Bramall gutted by missed Arsenal opportunity

Last Updated
Getty Images

Cohen Bramall has revealed his disappointment at having to leave Arsenal and explained that his situation at the club changed when Arsene Wenger left his post at the end of the 2017-18 season.

It was announced last week that the 23-year-old defender is one of seven players who will be leaving the Emirates once their current contracts expire at the end of June.

That means Bramall, who was plucked from non-league side Hednesford Town In January, 2017, will move on without having made a single senior appearance for the Gunners.

And while that is the source of some frustration for the left-back, he admits he knew the writing was on the wall as soon as Wenger announced he would be stepping down.

“When Arsene left it changed the whole thing for me,” Bramall told Goal in an exclusive interview. “I’m gutted that he left.

“When Unai came in I was hoping to train across with the first-team but I didn’t really get that opportunity.

“A lot of staff went, Neil Banfield, the boss obviously and other people round the club. A lot of people went and that made a big impact. But that’s life and it happens.”

Bramall added: “I didn’t have a conversation with Unai at all. That’s the thing. I didn’t have a conversation with him once.

"It was probably difficult for him because I’m guessing he was told I didn’t have the best of loans at Birmingham, so he just binned me off.

“And when I did get told to go over there and train, it was at the last minute. That’s the thing that upset me a bit because I didn’t get the chance to show Unai what I could do, like I did with Arsene.

Cohen Bramall Arsenal 2017

“The last three months I worked really hard to see if anything would change, but nothing did. So I knew it was coming. I already accepted it when Arsene went.”

Bramall’s move to Arsenal in 2017 generated plenty of headlines due to the fact he was signed from non-league football.

He was first spotted by Gunners scout Brian McDermott, who saw him playing for Hednesford Town.

Then 20, he was invited in for a trial with the Gunners and then offered a two-and-a-half year deal by an impressed Wenger, who publicly likened him to Ashley Cole.

Bramall went straight into the Under-23s set-up and then in the summer was part of the senior squad that travelled to Australia and China for the club’s pre-season tour, playing in games against Sydney FC, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

He joined Birmingham City on loan later that summer but failed to make his mark with the Championship club, making just eight appearances in all competitions for the Blues throughout the 2017-18 campaign.

Bramall stayed with Arsenal last season, but again endured a frustrating time of things, playing a handful of times for Freddie Ljungberg’s Under-23s before being told he would be released at the end of his deal.

“Obviously the last two-and-a-half years have been amazing,” he said. “It’s been great working with world-class players and so many good lads. It feels like it has gone too fast.

“But I feel good. I feel positive and like a pressure has come off my shoulders.”

Bramall added: “When you sign at Arsenal, Chelsea, [Manchester] United - top teams - there is constant social media pressure, things like that.

“My dream was to start for the first-team in a competitive game and I didn’t get to do that.

Cohen Bramall

“That was the pressure, to get there and achieve that, but I couldn’t do it. That’s the most annoying thing.

“I think if I’d played that competitive game, that pressure would have just gone. But when I was in and around the first-team, I just felt like I was putting pressure on myself, unnecessary pressure.”

Despite being unable to achieve his dream at the Emirates, Bramall insists he will look back fondly on his time in north London, particularly the time he spent working with Wenger.

The Crewe-born youngster will forever be grateful to the Frenchman for bringing him to Arsenal and giving him the opportunity to try and make his mark in the professional game.

“I’ll never forget working with him,” said the defender. “I had a lot of one on one conversations with him. It was just inspiring to listen to him.

“Arsene coaching me most days after I signed in 2017 and in pre-season was just amazing. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked with not just a good coach, but such a good human being.

“I was at Birmingham when I saw on Sky that he was leaving and I didn’t believe it. Then I saw it on Twitter and I asked someone at Arsenal if it was true and it was.

“Straight away I knew that things were going to be difficult for me after that. When Arsene was there and I was with the first-team, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure and didn’t put unnecessary pressure on myself. I felt really comfortable and that I was fitting in nicely.

Cohen Bramall Arsenal 2018

“But as soon as that got announced my heart sank a little bit because I knew full well it would be a problem.”

Bramall now plans to spend the next few weeks taking stock of his situation, with his contract at Arsenal set to expire at the end of June.

A move to a Championship club could be on the agenda as he looks to ignite a career that has stalled during the past 12 months.

There is a sense of regret that Emery never really gave him an opportunity to try and impress, but the full-back insists he does not hold a grudge.

Article continues below

“I don’t have frustrations towards him or anyone really,” said Bramall.

“Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to go in last summer and say ‘look Unai, I’m ready’. I knew I wasn’t going to get the opportunity that I had when I first signed and that I wasn’t going to work with the first-team as much as I did.

“I feel gutted that I didn’t get the opportunity, but you live and you learn.”