Chelsea defender/midfielder Ethan Ampadu may be three days shy of formal adulthood, but he’s already (relatively) well established at the senior level of top flight football. He will turn only 18 on Friday, but with 7 Chelsea appearances and 4 international caps to his name, including a masterclass against Republic of Ireland last week, his future possibilities seem limitless.
Before his transfer to Chelsea last summer, he was already turning heads at fourth division Exeter City, coached at the time by Paul Tisdale. Tisdale gave Ampadu his senior debut while still only 15, making him the youngest player ever in the club’s history. Ampadu almost repeated that trick at Chelsea, the following season, and he came close with Wales as well.
It wasn’t always a given that Ampadu would represent Wales however, as Tisdale reveals.
“I phoned England, very relevant people, to say you have to get hold of this chap. I haven’t seen a 14-year-old as good as Ethan, but I was told he takes too few touches. They were looking for players who want to take more touches, but that is his strength, he does things in one touch or two touches and sees things early.
“I was told they had better, 12 players better, and they were aware of Ethan, but I told them he thinks correctly, acts correctly and makes good decisions.”
Tisdale was obviously a big fan, and he continues to keep tabs on his young protege, both on the international scene and at Chelsea.
“He’s been destined to be a very good player and I’m sure he’s going to get even better. It’s been fabulous to watch his progress in the last couple years as I had a large part to play in his first year playing professional football at Exeter.”
“You have to have faith in the player and it was something we did at Exeter. I had faith in my ability to spot his talent, but I also had extreme faith in Ethan.”
“I watched him play the other night against Ireland and I was again very impressed. He is incredibly talented, but it isn’t about the technical ability, it is about thinking correctly in the right place at the right time and seeing the game so clearly.”
Obviously, some caution should be exercised in praising players too much and too soon, but Ampadu seems to be rising to every challenge with tremendous maturity and it seems unlikely that he would let it go to his head.
For Tisdale, who’s now at MK Dons after spending over a decade at Exeter, Ampadu’s just getting started.
“Whatever happens with Ethan he will be very purposeful and he will force himself through to success. As we have seen with Wales he steps up to every level and has confidence in his own ability.”
-Paul Tisdale; source: BBC
Hopefully he is just as correct in this assessment as he was when he first spotted Ampadu kicking around in the Exeter City youth teams.
P.S.: Your loss, England.