Exeter-born Ethan Ampadu became the third youngest player to ever represent Wales when he made his debut as a substitute on Friday against France. On Tuesday, he could become their second youngest player to ever start a game, if, as expected, he starts the friendly against Panama in Cardiff. If he does, he will have only lost out on Gareth Bale’s record by about 10 days. And we should go with that comparison, because the only person younger than Bale to ever play for Wales is Harry Wilson, a Liverpool prospect, and he’s yet to collect his second cap.
It’s been quite a ride for the 17-year-old Ampadu over the past few months, from transferring to Chelsea to signing his first professional contract to making his Chelsea debut and now, becoming a senior international for his chosen country. Ampadu technically remains eligible for England, Ireland (his father, current Arsenal youth coach Kwame Ampadu represented the Boys in Green), and even Ghana (through his paternal grandfather), but Wales are confident that he’ll continue representing them just as he has since his early teens.
How far Ampadu might go is not easy to say. He’s still oh so very young and there’s just as much chance his career turns out like Bale’s or Giggs’s than any number of teenagers no one’s heard of after their initial 15 minutes of fame and glory. Still, he’s off to a good start. Remember the name.