Ethan Ampadu plans to pass his Euro 2020 test with flying colours after combining football with GCSE exams when being part of Wales’ pre-tournament preparations five years ago.
Ampadu was a 15-year-old schoolboy at League Two Exeter when Chris Coleman invited him to join several Wales training sessions on the eve of Euro 2016.
Wales went on to reach the semi-finals in France and Ampadu, who would sign for Chelsea just over a year later, had his first taste of football’s big time in rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.
“That was a really proud moment for me to be able to train with the senior squad before they went to the last Euros,” Ampadu said at Wales’ pre-European Championship training camp in Portugal.
“I got to train with the players and it was unreal, especially seeing them prepare for what in hindsight was an incredible summer.
“It made it even a little bit more exciting for me when I was watching.
“If you get the taste of something, you just want a bit more. Now everyone wants to do it again, not only for us, but for the fans.
“My exams went alright too, I would like to say I did pretty well. My parents were pleased, that is the main thing.”
Ampadu is 20 now and has packed a lot into his short career.
Although first-team opportunities at Chelsea have been limited following his 2017 move, he has had contrasting loan spells at RB Leipzig and Sheffield United over the last two seasons.
Champions League football and Premier League relegation are both on his CV, while it remains to be seen where he will be playing next season – back at Chelsea or elsewhere on loan again.
“The season was disappointing because football is a results-based industry, we didn’t get great results and we were relegated,” Ampadu reflected on his time in Sheffield.
“But I got so much experience, ups and downs, and you try to learn from the positives of the downs. The more games you play makes you a better player.
“I’ve not been thinking of what can happen next year, because if you can perform to a new level (at Euro 2020) that might change things.
“Whoever gets the chance at the Euros it’s a big summer, but it’s not a distraction for me. It’s just concentrating on the now for Wales and doing as best I can.”
Ampadu has won 22 caps since making his Wales debut in 2017, but he has been hindered by injuries and missed the final few weeks of the season with a pelvic problem.
But Ampadu insists he will be fit for the Euro 2020 opener against Switzerland on June 12, and that Wales are ready to thrive with skipper Bale, who has linked up with the squad in Portugal after a short detour to Madrid, finding his scoring form for Tottenham at the end of the season.
“Hopefully this is the start of what could be a good summer,” said Ampadu, who has been used as a centre-back or central midfielder by Wales and is content to play either role.
“As the season’s gone on I’ve learned a lot about myself playing in different positions.
“I’m still young and still evolving and I’m sure discussions to nail down my position will happen soon.
“We are building something good (with Wales) and, going on form, Gareth scored a couple of goals in the last game.
“We hope he can bring them here, which I am sure he will, because he’s a world-class player.”