Ethan Ampadu exclusive: Wales and Chelsea midfielder talks Qatar World Cup ‘dream’, expectations and facing England | Football News
Ethan Ampadu has told Sky Sports News it is “hard to put into words” what his World Cup selection for Wales means – and insisted Rob Page’s side will not get “caught up in the emotions” of facing England in Group B.
Ampadu, who already has 37 caps for the national team since making his debut in 2017, is relishing the opportunity of featuring at his second major tournament and being involved in his country’s first appearance at a World Cup since 1958.
The 22-year-old, currently on loan from Chelsea at Serie A club Spezia, reckons Wales will not be overawed when they face Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions despite the rivalry, and potentially facing some of his Blues team-mates in Doha on November 29.
Wales’ 26-man World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Sheffield United).
Defenders: Ben Davies (Tottenham) Ben Cabango (Swansea City), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town), Joe Rodon (Rennes, on loan from Tottenham), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Ethan Ampadu (Spezia, on loan from Chelsea), Chris Gunter (AFC Wimbledon), Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest), Connor Roberts (Burnley).
Midfielders: Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Matthew Smith (MK Dons), Dylan Levitt (Dundee Utd), Harry Wilson (Fulham), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Jonny Williams (Swindon Town), Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City).
Forwards: Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth), Mark Harris (Cardiff City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Dan James (Fulham, on loan from Leeds).
“It’s hard to put into words. It’s the dream when you’re a child to go to a World Cup, for the country as a whole, for the fans, it’s massive,” Ampadu said on his call-up.
“It’s the first time in 64 years, we all feel the support and how amazing it’s going to be.
“The Wales squad is like a family, everyone gets on well with everyone, every day there is a different mixture of players talking to each other. Being away with Wales is always a great feeling.
“Whatever [opposition] team it may be, it’s the World Cup. It’s going to be difficult whoever you play but we’re going to go and represent ourselves in the best way as a nation.
“It’s a good group, we’re going to try and get out of it and there is going to be some exciting games. I think the best way is to be unfazed whether it’s Iran, England or USA [who we’re playing].”
Wales open their historic World Cup campaign against the USA before facing Iran, but it is the final Group B clash against England which they will be relishing.
Ampadu insists Wales need to stay level-headed when they take on Gareth Southgate’s side.
“We’re going to go out and prepare like we do for any other game,” he said.
“During the match, you have to block out and not get caught up in the emotions, afterwards if we win it will be great for bragging rights for the fans, but they would also love for us just to get out of the group.
“When the fans travelled to Baku last year at the Euros they showed their support then and hopefully with their backing this time around we can have a great tournament.”
What is Wales’ potential route to the final?*
If Wales win Group B….
Sunday December 4 – Last 16: Wales vs Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Saturday December 10 – Quarter-final: Wales vs France (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Wednesday December 14 – Semi-final: Wales vs Belgium (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Sunday December 18 – Final: Wales vs Netherlands (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
If Wales finish second in Group B…
Saturday December 3 – Last 16: Netherlands vs Wales (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 3pm)
Friday December 9 – Quarter-final: Wales vs Argentina (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; 7pm)
Tuesday December 13 – Semi-final: Wales vs Brazil (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 7pm)
Sunday December 18 – Final: Wales vs France (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
*Based on highest FIFA world ranking finishing top of respective groups and winning knock-out games