Hammers' Rice to switch allegiance to England

Paola Ditto
Febbraio 14, 2019

WEST HAM footballer Declan Rice has pledged his worldwide allegiance to England over the Republic of Ireland after several months of speculation.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: "Declan rang me today and said he has made a decision to give it a go with England. Good luck to him", McCarthy said.

Rice was born and raised in London, but played for Ireland from the U-16 level all the way through the senior team, his eligibility coming from his Irish-born grandparents.

'I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.

Able to play both in the centre of defence and midfield, Rice will be confident of a place in the Three Lions squad in the near future - especially given Eric Dier's inconsistent efforts as manager Gareth Southgate's only natural defensive midfielder. "Particularly not for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position".

He also addressed the Irish fans in the statement, saying: "I fully accept that some Irish supporters will be disappointed by my decision, and that everyone has different opinions in regard to the rules around global representation".

"I am not taking for granted a call-up to the England squad", Rice said, "or making any assumptions about my future worldwide career". "However, I hope that people can understand that I have made this decision with honesty, integrity and the full support of my family".

The 20-year-old added that he had reached this conclusion after discussions with those two global managers, with the former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and with his family and friends.

Back in September, the defensive midfielder asked for time out to decide his global future as winning a competitive cap for the Boys in Green would have tied him to the country for the remainder of his career. "My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was always 100% genuine". However, out of respect for the Republic of Ireland, I felt it was right to announce this decision now and put an end to the speculation.

Rice has made 23 Premier League appearances for West Ham this season, scoring one goal.

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