The moment the ball hit the back of the net as VIDI equalised against Chelsea in Europe on Thursday night, my heart sank. 

It was the first competitive start of the season for young centre back Ethan Ampadu, and he had just glanced a cross into his own net in the midst of a cold away night in Hungary. 

The home fans went wild and started sensing belief they could get a result against the Premier League giants, the atmosphere turned electric and somewhat intimidating for the opposition.

But I looked at the face of the recently turned 18-year old full Welsh International, and I instantly knew that he’d be just fine here. He didn’t look upset, lost or even angry. He remained calm, yet disappointed, and immediately went about continuing the excellent job that he had started the game doing. 

So many experienced players heads would have dropped at that point, let alone an 18-year old. But to me, when Ethan plays, he Isn’t a teenager – he’s merely a 30-year old club captain stuck inside an 18-year olds body. Because THAT is the kind of mentality this kid possesses. In fact, I demand to see his driving license!

Ampadu carried on the match and ended up a candidate for man of the match alongside fellow 18-year old Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was also class. But that’s for another article. 

As the match drew on and players became involved in scuffles, some began to lose their heads a little. So here is where you’d expect captains to come in and calm things down right? However, it was the dreaded haired boy wonder who covered the length of the pitch to stop Hudson-Odoi and Emerson get involved in an argument, and the same man again intervening with an opposition player who wanted to get at those players in sky blue. 

Ampadu was a class act, not just on the ball and in his defending – but in his leadership qualities and looking out for his own team mates. He even commands and directs his back four and those ahead of him, including the 31-year old captain for the night Cesc Fabregas. 

Anyone who doesn’t like football, I challenge them to watch the way that Ampadu so effortlessly and majestically plays the game, and at least not be a little bit impressed.

This kid is just a breathe of fresh air, and the type of personality the club have been missing since the Lampard’s and Terry’s left. For me, the future club captain without a doubt and one that Chelsea HAVE to protect, and HAVE to get his next move right. 

Simon Phillips 

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