Ethan Ampadu: Wales boss Chris Coleman says Rio Ferdinand can inspire teenager

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales at Stade de France
Ethan Ampadu
Ethan Ampadu made his debut for Premier League champions Chelsea in September 2017

Ethan Ampadu could use Rio Ferdinand as inspiration if he evolves from a holding midfielder to a centre-back, says Wales manager Chris Coleman.

Chelsea's Ampadu, 17, made his Wales debut during Friday's 2-0 friendly loss to France in Paris.

He came on in midfield but, like former Manchester United and England great Ferdinand, Coleman believes Ampadu could thrive in defence.

"He's capable of playing both [positions]," said Coleman.

"His frame, athleticism, and understanding of the game, he's a great communicator for someone so young. So at the moment it's a tough one to call.

"He could end up playing holding midfielder or as a centre-back.

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand won 81 England caps and played more than 300 times for Manchester United

"He's got a long way to go before you can liken him to someone like Rio Ferdinand but I remember him coming on at West Ham in midfield, he gravitated into a centre-back.

"Probably, in the last 20 years, Rio has been the best centre-back in the Premier League.

"Your modern day centre-backs start play and you need to be confident in possession. He's [Ampadu] a good communicator and a good all-round player."

Ampadu impressed after coming on at the Stade de France, holding his own against illustrious opponents such as Paris St-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

After a summer move from Exeter City, Ampadu caught the eye during his first senior start for Chelsea as they beat Everton in the League Cup in October.

He played as a holding midfielder on that occasion as well but he has been used as a centre-back during training sessions with Wales.

Against France, Ampadu came on for his Wales debut alongside Sheffield United's 20-year-old forward David Brooks, who was also making his first appearance.

Ben Woodburn, David Brooks and Ethan Ampadu
Chris Coleman introduces Ben Woodburn, David Brooks and Ethan Ampadu at the same time in Paris

Both are eligible to play for England and friendly matches are not binding, which means either player could switch allegiance to represent another country, with Ampadu also qualifying for the Republic of Ireland and Ghana.

However, both players played age-grade football for Wales before earning their senior debuts and Coleman is confident both players are committed to Wales.

"They're not legally bound to us," he added.

"We explained some years ago to the younger players, we spoke to their parents, we explained the pathways and that's all we can do.

"There's nothing we can do if any player changes their mind.

"In football you shouldn't be surprised by anything but I'd be amazed [if they switched]. The players are firmly committed to us."

Top Stories