By the time he was 13, word of the brilliant schoolboy in the south-west corner of the country had spread among scouts and coaches at the top of the football pyramid.
"That U13s season was the first time I took him to Manchester United," Hayward told Sky Sports.
"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."