Arsenal sign defender Cohen Bramall from Hednesford Town
Arsenal have completed the signing of left-back Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford Town after he underwent a short trial in December,
Bramall, 20, will join Arsenal as a young pro with the under-23 side, the club said, with Arsene Wenger hoping the player can eventually fight for a place in the first team.
Details of his contract were not disclosed, but the deal is reportedly worth about £40,000.
It's a remarkable reversal of fortune for Bramall, who said he was laid off from his job the day before Arsenal first contacted him about coming in for a trial.
"I can't believe that I'm here already. It's mental," Bramall told the Arsenal website. "I played a game at Birmingham City on a Monday. Then on the Tuesday, I was made redundant from Bentley Motors and on the Wednesday, Arsenal came in. I was gobsmacked and took the chance with both hands. I drove down on the Wednesday and trained with the first team on Thursday and Friday. Then they offered me a deal."
It is a substantial step for Bramall, who has never played at a professional level but impressed Arsenal scouts with his speed and athleticism. He could potentially develop into a long-term replacement for Kieran Gibbs, whose future at the club is uncertain.
Wenger has likened Bramall to a young Ashley Cole, but also said the defender is not ready for Premier League football yet.
"He is a young, promising left back who has a lack of experience at the top level but who has fantastic ingredients," Wenger told the Arsenal website. "He has tremendous pace, a good left foot, a great desire to do well. Overall, he's a very exciting prospect."
The signing also highlights Arsenal's increased efforts to scour the lower leagues for undiscovered talents, following the rise of former non-league players like Jamie Vardy.
"We have some players now who come from lower divisions, and you need scouts in lower divisions because many of them have to go down before they come up. And [Bramall] is one of them," Wenger added.
Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has already been impressed by the newcomer after seeing him in action for the first time during those two training sessions in December.
"I was training on the side of the pitch with the fitness coach," Oxlade-Chamberlain said. "So I was looking over and then I saw him training, so I asked someone about him and they me his story and obviously it made me think, 'wow.' To be where he was a couple of weeks ago, and then to be training with the Arsenal first team, I was thinking he must be in dreamland over there.
"I paid close attention to him and saw some really good signs of things -- you can see why we wanted to sign him.
"I was very encouraged by his story and quite inspired to see someone that's been given that opportunity and he was proving himself and holding his own. It was great, and then I chatted to him after training and he was just a really good lad and a top boy. He was generally just delighted and surprised at the same time, to be in the position that he was.
"He was really humble about it as well, which is always nice to see. Straightaway he seemed like somebody I wanted to help, and wanted to see do well."
Having spent nearly £90m on players in the summer transfer window, Wenger has said he is not planning any major additions to the first team in January.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.