Ethan Ampadu will take more than just a passing interest in the FA Youth Cup final as Chelsea Under-18s take on an Arsenal side managed by his father Kwame...
The 17-year-old, who arrived last summer from Exeter, played for Jody Morris’s Under-18s in our opening game of this season’s Youth Cup, a 4-0 win over Scunthorpe, and had it not been for injury there is a strong possibility he would have been lining up against his father’s team tomorrow.
Ampadu will be in attendance at the Bridge as the Blues, chasing a record-equalling fifth consecutive success in the tournament, look to secure an advantage ahead of Monday’s return leg at the Emirates, and it’s certainly no surprise he has followed in his father’s footsteps of becoming a professional footballer.
'My dad is the Arsenal Under-18s coach and he’s been doing that for a couple of years now,' Ampadu tells the official Chelsea website. 'He was at Exeter originally and then he moved to Arsenal, where he worked with the Under-14s first, then then Under-16s and now he’s working with the Under-18s, so that’s his coaching background.
'He was playing at Exeter at the end of his career and then joined a smaller side. After that he had a normal job and then went back to coaching at Exeter.
'I was too young to ever really remember him playing, even though my mum did used to take me along to his games.
'I think he had a good career; he started at Arsenal and he played a couple of games for the first team. Then he moved to the likes of Swansea and West Brom, before ending up at Exeter. That’s why I grew up in Exeter, because I was born there while he was playing for them.'
Ampadu has enjoyed a solid first season at Stamford Bridge, making seven appearances for the first team as well as featuring regularly for the development squad and in the UEFA Youth League.
For a young player still making his way in the game, how helpful is it having a parent working as part of the coaching staff for a Premier League club?
'He gives me advice every now and then and obviously I trust what he tells me because he’s my dad, so he’s obviously not going to try and stitch me up or anything, I trust him the most,' says Ampadu.
'Growing up, when we would go for a kickabout we would try and work on a couple of bits but now he tries to let me get on with things, which has helped me to become a bit more independent. He’s always done that but if I ever ask him for advice he helps me out.
'The first-team games I’ve played in have mainly been cup games, in midweek at night, so he’s been able to get to them. Even with the development squad games, they’re often at night as well, and when we play at Aldershot he can come along. It’s always good to have him watching in the stands.'
Ampadu goes on to explain how it would have felt playing against a team managed by his dad, particularly in such an important fixture.
'When I found out there was a possibility we could play Arsenal it made it very interesting, but throughout the whole season we’ve been having a bit of banter,' he says.
'I was telling him I was going to play against him in the final and score a last-minute winner and celebrate in front of him, but obviously due to my circumstances that can’t happen now even though it is a Chelsea versus Arsenal final.
'When you’re actually playing you don’t think about it but I wouldn’t have been able to lose against him. I don’t like losing anyway, I hate it, but I definitely wouldn’t want to lose against my dad.
'It will be interesting to see who my mum supports, surely it has to be Chelsea, she has to back me. I have an older sister as well and I think I can persuade her to support Chelsea. They’re both at home in Exeter so I’m not sure if they will be able to get down for it, but I will definitely be going to the game.'
'I’ve spoken to my dad this week but not really about the game. Normally we go out for food a couple of times a week but we’ve put that on hold until after the final.'
Currently out injured, Ampadu’s rehabilitation is going well, and the youngster was able to travel out to Nyon earlier this week [pictured above] to support his Under-19 team-mates in the UEFA Youth League final against Barcelona.
'I’m progressing well, the physios are pleased with how it’s going but it’s about taking each day as it comes and not rushing anything,' Ampadu says. 'I just want to make sure I come back stronger and fitter.
'It was nice to go out there for the game. They had the semi-final on Friday but I was doing some rehab work so I watched that at Cobham. I was a bit nervous towards the end but thankfully we got through.
'For the final, it was nice to fly out the day before and be part of the team. On the day it wasn’t meant to be but it was a great experience. We had some good results against some tough teams along the way and hopefully when we get the opportunity to play in the competition again we can go one step further and win it.'
- The first leg takes place at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, kick-off 7.45pm, and supporters can purchase tickets here, priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
Tickets for the second leg at the Emirates are currently on sale to season ticket holders and members (maximum of one ticket per person), free of charge. From 10am today (Thursday 26 April) season ticket holders and members can purchase a maximum of four tickets per person priced at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions. Tickets will go off sale at 5pm on Friday 27 April.