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Ethan Ampadu hailed as future Wales captain and frontrunner to break Gareth Bale record


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ETHAN AMPADU has been hailed as a future Wales captain and a frontrunner to break Gareth Bale’s caps record.

The Leeds skipper is set to win his 50th cap – at just the age of 23 – in Thursday’s crunch Euro 2024 play-off semi-final against Finland in Cardiff.

Ampadu has already played at a Euros and the 2022 World Cup where Wales lost 3-0 to England


Ampadu has already played at a Euros and the 2022 World Cup where Wales lost 3-0 to EnglandCredit: Getty
The Wales midfielder became Leeds captain back in January


The Wales midfielder became Leeds captain back in JanuaryCredit: PA

Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies are Wales captain and vice-captain respectively but Ampadu is tipped as the long-term successor for the armband.

And Bale’s appearance record of 111 Welsh caps could also be under threat if the ex-Chelsea star continues racking up the games at such lightning speed.

Wales boss Robert Page said: “He’s a future Wales captain. 100 per cent because he’s already the captain of Leeds and that’s a big club.

“He’s a great lad, very humble, doesn’t get carried away with things and he’s a model pro on and off the pitch. That’s why he has the Leeds armband.

“His performances are consistent week in, week out. I’ve seen him in training and he trains as if it’s a game. That’s what you want. You can’t have half measures. He leads by example so credit to him.

“It is a big responsibility to be Leeds captain but they wouldn’t have given it to him if they didn’t think he could cope with it. I know him and I can see why he’s taken it so well – he’ll enjoy it.”

When asked if former Wales talisman Bale, who won his final cap against England at the 2022 World Cup before retiring, should be worried over losing his caps record to Ampadu, Page replied: “Yes. But we’ve got a few, haven’t we?

“Ethan’s the youngest on the caps but we have younger players who are coming through as well.”

Ampadu, who will reach the half-century milestone alongside Leeds winger Dan James, 26, was given his debut as a 17-year-old by former Wales manager Chris Coleman in a 2-0 friendly defeat to France in Paris back in November 2017.

Former U21s boss Page, who became Wales chief in November 2020 following the arrest of Ryan Giggs, added: “Ethan is only 23 but it seems like he’s been around forever because of the age he was when he got his debut.

Watch Gareth Bale nail his first ever hole-in-one then celebrate wildly but video goes down like lead balloon with fans

“He didn’t come through me in the U21s, he was already in the senior team hence why he’s getting his 50th cap now. But from the minute I’ve worked with him, I have loved everything about him.”

Ampadu will captain Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds into battle against Millwall at Elland Road today (Sun).

Then he leads Whites foursome including James, Joe Rodon and Connor Roberts to join their Welsh pals in Cardiff.

The versatile star plays central midfield for his country but club boss Daniel Farke has paired him with countryman Joe Rodon at centre-back and the duo have conceded just three goals in 11 games.

But Page is keen to stick with Ampadu, who has played for Exeter, Chelsea, Leipzig, Sheffield United, Venezia, Spezia and Leeds in a colourful career so far, remaining in the engine room as Wales bid to reach a third successive Euros finals.

Page, 49, said: “We’ve always known Ethan can play centre back and I do like him there.

“He keeps you high up the pitch, you can play a high line because he’s not worried or phased about pace in behind because of his athleticism and aggression.

“It’s great to have that luxury that he can play more than one position. He’s a great asset to the team.

“He and Joe have struck up a good partnership keeping clean sheets and of course you’re going to think about it.

“But when I’ve got a three (Rodon, Ben Davies and Chris Mepham) that are playing well and doing okay I don’t like making changes for the sake of it.

“Ethan’s just as good playing as a six in midfield as he is at the back. On the ball we’ve needed that physically and him and JJ (Jordan James) have struck up such a strong partnership.”  

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Ethan Ampadu hailed as future Wales captain and frontrunner to break Gareth Bale record

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