Cumbrian Premier League star Jarrad Branthwaite has paid tribute to dad Paul for saving his career.

The Everton defender, from Wigton, says a six-week period in his teens was critical to his progress in the professional game.

It came during Branthwaite’s time in Carlisle United’s academy when Blues staff delayed a decision on whether he would be awarded a youth team contract.

It was an incentive for the Cumbrian to prove his worth – and Paul, a top former rugby player in the county, made sure he gave it his all.

“When it came to my scholarship year it was like, ‘Maybe’,” said Branthwaite, recalling the critical spell in Carlisle’s youth set-up during an interview with Sky Sports.

“I had six weeks to prove I was good enough to get a scholarship.

“That six weeks was hard work – my dad had me in the gym doing extra fitness stuff, so I could make it.

News and Star: Branthwaite helped Everton to a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on SaturdayBranthwaite helped Everton to a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday (Image: PA)

“If he didn’t do that for me I don’t think I’d be where I am now. I’d have just given up, I think [and] I wouldn’t be playing football [now].”

Branthwaite went on to flourish in United’s youth side and, after making his first-team debut at 17, was snapped up by Everton in January 2020.

After last season saw an impressive loan spell at PSV Eindhoven, the 21-year-old defender is now starring in Sean Dyche’s first-team defence in the top-flight.

Branthwaite has also captained England’s Under-21s and has been tipped for a senior call-up.

The Cumbrian, meanwhile, has described Everton’s points deduction as having a galvanising effect on the squad at Goodison Park.

“It’s made us tighter as a group,” he added, “made us want it more than we usually want it, that we can prove people wrong that we can get out of this position.

“I think it shows on the pitch, how we work for each other more and hopefully [it will] bring results.

“We can’t affect what’s happened – we’ve just got to put in performances on the pitch.”