Earlier this week highly promising youngster Ethan Ampadu made history at Exeter City by becoming the club’s youngest ever senior player, aged just 15 years, 10 months and 26 days.
The teenager, who is yet to sit his GCSEs and only played because he’s on his school holidays, spent Tuesday night making his senior debut for the League 2 club in the League Cup, playing in the 1-0 victory over Championship side Brentford at St. James Park.
The teenager’s mature display saw the defender pick up the Man of the Match award on the night, with Exeter boss Paul Tidsdale waxing lyrical about the highly rated youngster to the BBC:
“The biggest compliment I can give him is that he plays like a 35-year-old. That’s not normally the English way – we like drama, we like spark. But we don’t often encourage and cultivate subtle, classy players, and he’s one of those.”
The previous Exeter record for their youngest senior player was set more than 80 years ago in 1928 by Cliff Bastin, who would go on to to score 178 goals in 395 games for Arsenal. The tally made him the Gunners’ all-time top goalscorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright.
Ampadu, who is capable of playing anywhere in defence and midfield, may also follow in the footsteps of Bastin in another way, with both Goal.com and the Daily Star reporting that Arsenal are interested in acquiring the Welsh Under-17 international. He is also eligible to play for Ghana, England and Ireland and trained with the Wales squad prior to their Euro 2016 campaign.
The Gunners will likely face competition for the 15-year-old’s signature though, with reports earlier in the year speculating that Premier League trio Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United were all interested in the teenager.
However, Arsene Wenger may have the upper hand in this particular situation as Ethan is the son of former West Brom, Swansea, Leyton Orient and Exeter midfielder Kwame Ampadu, and the 45-year-old is currently working for Arsenal as an Academy Coach.
However, speaking to the Express & Echo newspaper, Tidsdale expressed the hope that the club can retain the services of their starlet – at least for now.
“One thing we do know is that he’s exceptionally talented and, if – and I hope he does – over the short term, he chooses to spend his early years at Exeter, I think we will give him a fantastic opportunity to develop quickly and not just develop his game technically,” he said.
“As we know, he’ll be capable of playing at a very high level one day but there’s no substituting the experience and intensity you get from nights like he had on Tuesday.”
Steven Parkhill, Pundit Arena