West Ham United star Declan Rice has officially committed his international future to England.
Rice, 20, has switched allegiances after receiving three caps for the Republic of Ireland in 2018, pledging his international future to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.
Why has Rice committed to England? Five key things to know…
- Born in London, Rice is eligible to play for Ireland via his grandparents.
- The central midfielder received three Ireland caps under previous manager Martin O’Neill last year.
- All three caps were played during friendly matches, and so, Rice had the option to declare for the country of his birth, which he has now done.
- The 20-year-old has been in sensational form this season and Southgate has previously expressed a desire to introduce Rice into the England fold.
- The West Ham midfielder has since confirmed via social media that he wishes to play for England in the future.
The news will come as a significant setback to Mick McCarthy with the Euro 2020 qualification campaign just around the corner, but the current Ireland manager did reveal that Rice gave him a call before announcing his decision, and he wished him all the best.
He said: “Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him.”
In September, Southgate also revealed that he had held conversations with Rice regarding his international future, and the England manager will now be buoyed by the recent announcement.
In a statement on his twitter account, Rice wrote: “This afternoon I telephoned both Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate to inform them of my decision to submit a written request to Fifa for the transfer of my international registration from the Republic of Ireland to England.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision and, in all honesty, not one I ever expected to be making at this stage of my career. So much has happened, so quickly, in the past couple of years, from progressing through the West Ham United academy to making my Premier League debut at the age of 18 in May 2017 and then being named in a full international squad just two days later.
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“In recent weeks and months, I have discussed the situation with my parents, my family, my girlfriend and my closest friends. I have also spoken to Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy, Gareth Southgate and to friends and colleagues within the game whose opinion I respect. I am truly grateful for the support I have received in leading to this decision.
“Like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. I am a proud Englishman, 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.
“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. Particularly not for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position.
“Ultimately it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) February 13, 2019
Rice went on to thank the Ireland national team for their support, as well as both Mick McCarthy and Martin O’Neill, while also accepting that some Irish supporters will not be happy with his decision.
“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 international representation. However, I hope that people can understand that I have made this decision with honesty, integrity and the full support of my family.
“I would like to thank Mick McCarthy, Martin O’Neill, all of the coaching staff and everyone associated with the FA of Ireland (with special thanks to Mark O’Toole), not only for their support and understanding throughout this period, but for the part they have played in my development as a young player.
“My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was always 100 per cent genuine. It was a great honour for myself and my family, and something I will always cherish.
“I would also like to make it clear that, in requesting to transfer my national team representation, I am not taking for granted a call-up to the England squad or making any assumption about my future international career. 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.
“I am still only 20 years old and there is a long road ahead for me. For now, my focus remains entirely on establishing myself as a Premier League player with West Ham United and working as hard as possible to improve and be successful.
“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.”
Southgate will name his next England squad for qualification matches against the Czech Republic and Montenegro next month, and will now have Rice available for selection.