There was already a little bit of noise about him, but Ethan Ampadu might as well have grabbed a megaphone and screamed out loud such was the impact of his performance on his senior Wales bow.
The Chelsea central defender, who can also operate in midfield, was superb as Wales crushed the Republic of Ireland 4-1 in Cardiff on Thursday and ensured Ryan Giggs’ reign really took off in the UEFA Nations League opener.
Ampadu ran the show in midfield for the rampant Welsh, belying his 17 years with a calm and composed performance alongside the experienced duo of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey.
The highlight was when the teenager muscled Jonathan Walters off the ball in midfield, advanced up the pitch and played a precise pass into Ramsey who scored to make it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time to the hosts.
Talk beforehand had surrounded the fact the Exeter City academy graduate could still choose to play for England as his previous two Wales appearances had been in non-competitive fixtures – but that is no longer a concern for Giggs, or thankfully for Welsh fans.
For those of you who didn’t know a thing about Wales’ newest young talent before Thursday, we’ve put together a handy fact file on the supremely talented teenager.
Name: Ethan Kwame Colm Raymond Ampadu
Birthplace: Exeter, England
Position: Central defender/midfielder
CAREER STATS (CLUB)
Exeter City 2016/17
Chelsea 2017/18 Professional Development League
2015 England U16
2016 Wales U17
2016 Wales U19
# Born in Exeter, Devon, Ampadu is the son of ex-professional footballer Patrick Kwame Ampadu, who started his career at Arsenal before going on to make the majority of his appearances at Swansea City and Exeter City.
# A product of the Exeter youth academy, Ampadu made his senior debut aged just 15 years, 10 months and 26 days, in an EFL Cup first round match against Brentford at St James Park on August 9, 2016, playing the full 120 minutes of a 1-0 victory.
# He became the club’s youngest-ever player, breaking an 87-year-old record set by Cliff Bastin, and was named man of the match. A week later, he made his league debut in a 1-0 home defeat against Crawley Town.
# On July 1, 2017, Ampadu signed a contract with Premier League club Chelsea.
# After making a handful of cup appearances and his Premier League debut last season, Chelsea were ordered to pay his former club Exeter £1.3m following a tribunal, which will rise to £2.5m.
# Ampadu made his debut for Chelsea on September 20 in an EFL Cup third round match against Nottingham Forest, coming on in the 55th minute for Cesc Fabregas. Doing so made him the first player born in the 2000s to play for the Chelsea senior team.
# At 17 years and six days old, he also became the youngest player to debut for the Stamford Bridge club in over 10 years.
# On December 12, he made his Premier League debut for Chelsea, coming on as a substitute against Huddersfield Town.
# Ampadu was eligible to represent Wales, England, the Republic of Ireland and Ghana. He played once for England U-16s in 2015 but has since gone on to represent Wales at U-17 and U-19 level.
# Qualifies for Wales as his mother is Welsh and he has been part of their developmental teams since the age of 12.
# He was called into the senior Wales squad ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Serbia in May 2017. He was forced to drop out of Wales’ squad for the game against Serbia in June to concentrate on finishing his GCSEs.
# Was called up again in November for friendlies against France and Panama and made his debut on November 10 at the Stade de France against Les Bleus, coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute for Joe Ledley in a 2-0 defeat.
# Ampadu was still eligible for England up until Thursday’s game against Ireland as his previous two appearances for Wales had been friendlies.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT HIM:
Wales manager Ryan Giggs:
“Ethan is a talented player. Even more so than that, as a person he is so balanced, so mature, for such a young player – he’s going to be magnificent.”
Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb:
“He’s got composure beyond his years. The world is his oyster. I think Maurizio Sarri has to look at him and say ‘wow – what a player I’ve got here’. He could have been playing in slippers, he was that good.”
Former Blackburn and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews:
“He was like a Rolls-Royce in midfield. It was a big call to leave Joe Ledley out but it shows the confidence Ryan Giggs has in him.”
Former Chelsea and Scotland winger Pat Nevin:
“Ethan Ampadu is very likely to push David Luiz, Toni Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill as much as just about any other centre-back we could have thrown £50m or £60m at.”
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