Ampadu, Ethan

Birth Date

14th September 2000

Birthplace

Exeter, Devon

Occupation

Utility

Biographical Text

Ethan Ampadu, son of former City player Kwame Ampadu, appeared for Exeter City's first-team aged fifteen before signing for Chelsea. He made thirteen league and cup appearances for Exeter City whilst still a year 11 student at St Luke’s Science and Sports College. This made Ethan one of the first 21st century-born players to appear in senior football as well as City's youngest-ever player at the time. Appearing for Wales in the final stages of the 2022 World Cup, he left Chelsea - with loan spells with clubs in England, Germany and Italy along the way - for Leeds United after seven years at Stamford Bridge.  

Ethan's first-team debut was in an EFL Cup tie against Brentford on 9 August 2016 when aged 15 years, 10 months, 26 days. This made Ethan the club’s youngest-ever player; he was in the school holidays between year 10 and year 11 at the time. The previous record had been held by Cliff Bastin, also Exeter-born and a future international footballer. Both had attended schools on Ladysmith Road, Exeter: Ethan when primary-aged; Cliff Bastin up until secondary-leaving age. 

Ollie Watkins, another future City international, was in the Exeter side when Ethan made his debut. In total Ethan made eight league, one FA Cup, two EFL cup and two EFL Trophy appearances during 2016/17.

Ethan was eligible to represent England, Republic of Ireland, Ghana and Wales and had kept his options open by playing for England and Wales at various age group levels whilst still with Exeter City. He was later to commit to Wales. 

Although registered to play for Exeter City, Ethan had not signed a contract for the club or made any promise to do so. Consequently there was much speculation about his future and eventually, on 1 July 2017, it was announced he had signed for Chelsea for a fee determined by the Professional Football Compensation Committee (PFCC). In a statement Exeter City clarified the terms: 

“The decision taken by the PFCC means that Exeter’s total compensation is up to £2.5m: comprising a guaranteed sum of £1.3m based on a transfer fee plus international and first-team appearances already made, with the balance made up of contingent sums amounting to of a further £1.25m depending on the player’s first team appearances with Chelsea, together with 20% of any excess. 

The detail states that Chelsea Football Club should pay Exeter City an initial net fee of £850,000. In addition to the initial payment a fee of £450,000 is also payable. This fee incorporates an amount for the player signing a first professional contract, making five first-team appearances and obtaining a senior international cap.” 

Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg commented that “to say that we are disappointed is an understatement” and went on to say the club was also "disappointed for football as we feel this decision sends the wrong message in terms of financial reward for those owners, chairmen, managers and coaches up and down the country who are also working as hard as us to improve their clubs by producing talented home-grown players for both club and country.” 

Ethan made his debut for Chelsea on 20 September 2017 in an EFL Cup third round match against Nottingham Forest. At the time he was Chelsea’s eighth-youngest player (when many of his former schoolmates would have been in their first term at college in Exeter) and, shortly afterwards, he also made his full Wales debut as a substitute against France on 10 November 2017. Five years later Ethan went on to play in all three of Wales’ matches - against the United States, Iran and England - in the Qatar World Cup. By the end of the tournament, he had won forty caps for Wales. 

As of the 2022 World Cup, Ethan’s club career had not been so plain-sailing. Aside from summer friendlies and, although he was contracted to Chelsea until 2024, he had not played a competitive fixture for the club since 2018/19. Instead he had spent periods on loan at RB Leipzig (2019/20), Sheffield United (2020/21), Venezia (2021/22) and Spezia (2022/23).    

Ethan’s time with Spezia ended in relegation as the club lost its key play-off game against Verona. Scoring his first senior goal that day, Ethan brought his total of first-team appearances - for all his clubs - to 125 over the seven seasons since making his debut for Exeter City. These divided into Exeter City (13), Chelsea (12), Leipzig (7), Sheffield United (29), Venezia (30) and Spezia (34).

Rather bizarrely in July 2023, after a number of players had left Stamford Bridge, the Evening Standard reported that Ethan had become Chelsea's longest-serving player. Within a week this was no longer the case as Ethan joined Leeds United in a £7 million deal with Exeter City due some of the proceeds. Immediately establishing himself in a promotion-challenging team Ethan - who had scored during his time with Spezia - netted his first goals in senior English football when he scored twice against Peterborough United in the FA Cup in January 2024 prior to being named in the EFL Championship team of the year in April 2024 and captaining the Leeds side that lost to Southampton in the Championship play-off final in May 2024. 

Appearances

Exeter City

8 league, 5 cup (13)

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