Legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was keen on signing Wales wonderkid Ethan Ampadu, but during the turbulent years at the club after his retirement, the Welshman slipped through the net and joined Chelsea.
17-year-old Ampadu is yet to feature for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, but has starred for his country during the recent international break. His eye-catching performances for Wales – most notably in the win over Ireland – have got some fans crying out for the youngster to be given a chance under new boss Maurizio Sarri.
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, it was Ferguson who first spotted Ampadu’s potential, reportedly describing the then 12-year-old as ‘a proper United player’.
It’s understood that Ferguson spotted Ampadu when Exeter’s U-13s side travelled to United in 2013, and immediately ‘lobbied’ David Gill to agree a deal for the midfielder.
However, Ampadu’s chance at a potential United career was all but eliminated that summer, with Ferguson stepping down, and the combination of Ed Woodward and new manager David Moyes failing to make a move for the Welshman.
Former Exeter’s academy coach Simon Hayward confirmed earlier this year that Ampadu was part of a group that went on trial at United.
He is quoted as saying: “In that visit to Manchester United there was a game going on with his age group, there were trialists from all over Europe.
“Ethan played as a central defender, a central midfielder and a centre forward at different times in the game and, in my opinion, he was the best player on the pitch no matter what position he played in.”
United’s loss was Chelsea’s gain however, with Ampadu joining the Blues in 2017, making his debut in the Premier League last season as a substitute against Huddersfield.
It seems United were not the only ones to miss an opportunity with Ampadu, with former Exeter boss Paul Tisdale claiming that England rejected the youngster from selection at youth level, before he was called up by Wales.