Non-league starlet Cohen Bramall has completed a deal to become Arsenal's first signing of the January transfer window following a successful trial period. The promising left-back has been plying his trade with Northern Premier League Premier Division side Hednesford Town for the last five months, but will now make the step and join the Gunners' U23 squad under the guidance of head coach Steve Gatting.
"Incredible, incredible," Bramall told Arsenal Player after confirmation of the £40,000 (€48,700) deal finally arrived on Tuesday (10 January). "It's a dream come true... I can't believe that I'm here already. It's mental.
"My mouth dropped, I looked at my agent [when I heard of Arsenal's interest]. It was a pretty emotional response really. I just couldn't believe it... couldn't believe it. I just thought 'yes!'".
Bramall, who also spoke of an instant chemistry with Arsene Wenger and the surreal nature of training alongside the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, has certainly experienced a whirlwind few weeks.
His switch to Arsenal, which owes much to the scouting prowess of former Reading and Leeds United manager Brian McDermott, followed hot on the heels of similar trials with Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday. He was also made redundant from his job on the production line at Bentley Motors factory in Crewe just before Christmas.
A former track and field enthusiast, Bramall previously played for Kidsgrove Athletic, Alsager Town, Nantwich Town, Market Drayton and Newcastle Town before being snapped up by former Hednesford boss Liam McDonald last summer. Having previously labelled the 20-year-old as an "exceptional physical talent" and drawn parallels between his new recruit and a young Ashley Cole, Wenger believes that such time spent in non-league football can help instil a certain fighting spirit and mental toughness.
"I believe that when you go down, there's mental selection," he told the official Arsenal website. "It's a mental test – do you love football enough? Are you ready enough to fight [to show] that you are above this level and that you absolutely want to come back? Players like [Olivier] Giroud and [Laurent] Koscielny have had that test. They are similar to that. Once they get up, they really mean it.
"[Bramall] is a young, promising left back who has a lack of experience at the top level but who has fantastic ingredients. He has tremendous pace, a good left foot, a great desire to do well. Overall, he's a very exciting prospect."