West Ham youngster Declan Rice has finally come out and declared for the English national team. Rice has been at the centre of a tug-of-war after Gareth Southgate expressed an interest in the defensive midfielder following a number of solid displays for Ireland last summer.
Then, Rice informed Ireland manager Martin O’Neill that he needed time to consider his international future before lining out for the Republic in a competitive game.
The youngster was also in the process of hammering out a new contract with his club and had met with Mick McCarthy in December after the former Ipswich coach landed the Irish job.
Many former players and fans saw Rice as a potential captain for the boys in green, but having contacted both McCarthy and Southgate to inform them of his decision, the 20 year old took to twitter to let his fans know.
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) February 13, 2019
Describing the decision as ‘an extremely difficult’ one, Rice said ‘like so many people around the world I consider myself mixed nationality. I am a proud English man having been born and raised in London. However, I am just as proud of my family’s Irish heritage and my affinity and connection with the country.’
He went on to express his ‘pride’ at wearing the green jersey, adding ‘my pride at wearing the Irish jersey was always 100% genuine. It was a great honour and something I will always cherish.’
And while fans will find some of the statement tough to swallow, given he previously stated ‘there’s no decision to be made. If I didn’t want to be playing for Ireland, I wouldn’t be here’, the final remarks will hurt most.
‘In football, and in life, I have always tried to be completely honest and true to myself and my family at all times, and that is what I will continue to do.’