The UEFA Nations League got underway last night across Europe, with Germany vs. France headlining this latest twist on trying to squeeze meaning out of international friendlies. That marquee matchup did little to change the status quo however, yawning its way to a classic 0-0 finish. Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger and N’Golo Kanté played the full game while Olivier Giroud got a little over an hour.
Fortunately, there was excitement elsewhere, in Cardiff to be exact, where Wales took on the Republic of Ireland. Starting in midfield for the Welsh was 17-year-old Chelsea prospect Ethan Ampadu, making his competitive debut after two friendly caps last season — he’s now cap-tied to Wales, losing his eligibilities for England, Republic of Ireland, and Ghana. Ampadu normally plays at center back for Chelsea, but he’s certainly capable in central midfield as well.
Better make that more than capable, in fact. Here he is winning the ball, running the counter, and setting up Aaron Ramsey’s goal.
Ethan Ampadu bossing it pic.twitter.com/9rKEU3zE2a— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) September 6, 2018
But that was just one small moment.
How good was Ethan Ampadu for Wales in their 4-1 Nations League win against Republic of Ireland on Thursday?
Outstanding performance from Ethan Ampadu last night @Cymru v @FAIreland— Football DNA (@footballdna_) September 7, 2018
✅17 Years Old
⭐️Intercepts, Tackles , Picks a Pass , Vision, Composure , Energy @JohnHartson10 @Gabbidon35 @WelshSportLive @jackcollison pic.twitter.com/5KOJcajtrh
It’s hard to believe that such a young player has such a mature game, something his coach, Ryan Giggs, brought up after the match as well.
“Ethan is a talented player. Even more so than that, as a person, he’s so balanced and mature for such a young player. He’ll be a magnificent player.”
-Ryan Giggs; source: Star
Playing as a defensive midfielder, 17 year-old Ampadu earned praise from his coach and pundits alike for bossing the game.
Teenage Wales and Chelsea player Ethan Ampadu has just blown— WalesOnline Sport (@WelshSportLive) September 6, 2018
everyone away with a midfield masterclasshttps://t.co/XjGGJOxIRs
It’s hard to know exactly what the future holds for Ampadu at Chelsea, but this young man just oozes quality. Last year, he became one of club’s youngest players ever, and he’s only grown in stature from there, finishing the season with seven appearances (four starts). He produced a Man of the Match performance on his first Wales start last November, in the friendly against Panama, and now he’s done essentially the same in a more competitive setting.
Ampadu featured heavily in preseason, but has yet to make a matchday squad since the season began. With the schedule dealing us two matches per week after this international break, let’s hope that Sarri gives him a runout for some of the cup matches.
Elsewhere on Thursday, in addition to the aforementioned 0-0 between Germany and France, Croatia drew 1-1 with Portugal (Kovačić played the full 90), and the Czech Republic lost to Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine, 2-1 (Kalas played the full game for the Czechs). And there was a 0-0 draw between England and the Netherlands in the Euro U21 qualifiers, which did not feature Mason Mount. Tammy Abraham got 15 minutes off the bench in what was a disappointing night for the young Three Lions.