Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was desperate to sign Ethan Ampadu when the Chelsea ace was only 12.
The 18-year-old was playing for Exeter at the time when he impressed the legendary boss during a junior football tournament at Old Trafford in 2013.
So impressed was he that he urged United’s then-chief executive David Gill to get a deal for Ampadu done.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Ferguson is believed to have dubbed the teenager a ‘proper United player’ upon seeing him, however, both the manager and Gill stepped down that summer and Ampadu slipped through the net, as David Moyes and Ed Woodward came in.
In 2017 Chelsea were the side that finally landed him.
When Ampadu first joined Exeter he should have been playing with the Under-7s, but his class at a young age meant he was fast-tracked to the Under-9s and towards the end of his Under-13 year, he was mixing it with the Under-18s.
During an interview with Sky Sports in January, former Exeter academy boss Simon Hayward said: “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.
“There was a real value in seeing with my own eyes how well he did in those different environments at big clubs. It meant I knew that when they said he’s not as good as this lad or that lad – and one player they brought up a lot was Jadon Sancho, who was at Watford at the time – I knew it was just because they were trying to keep the price down.”
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