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Declan Rice in his final Irish senior appearance last June.
Declan Rice in his final Irish senior appearance last June.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Declan Rice rejects Ireland and declares for England

Mick McCarthy’s squad has suffered a huge blow as the saga finally reached an end.
Feb 13th 2019, 4:09 PM 79,429 248

DECLAN RICE HAS today declared that he will represent England after a lengthy tug-of-war for the 20-year-old’s allegiances.

In a lengthy statement published on his social media channels, Rice said he phoned Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate today to inform them of his intention to request an official transfer ahead of the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifiers. 

He also said that his pride at playing for Ireland was “100% genuine” and that he considers himself to be of “mixed nationality.”

“This afternoon I telephoned 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. 

“In recent weeks and months, I have discussed the situation with the people who mean the most to me. 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. 

“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 I made this decision with honesty, integrity, and the full support of my family. 

AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United - Premier League - Vitality Stadium Declan Rice in action for West Ham in the Premier League last month. Source: Mark Kerton

“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% 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 an England call-up or making any assumptions 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 of 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.”

In a statement released by the FAI, Irish manager Mick McCarthy wished Rice well for the future.

“Declan Rice rang me today and told me he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him, it is his decision and his decision alone and I wish him well with his international career in the future.

“When I met Declan and his family, along with Robbie Keane last November, I told Declan that I would be delighted if he opted to stay with Ireland having won three senior caps and represented us so many times at underage level.

“That is not to be. I never got the chance to work with Declan so he is not my player and won’t be now that he has made up his mind.

We start the European Championship qualifiers at the end of March and my coaching staff and I have concentrated our efforts on those who want to play for us. They are the important ones and they are the ones who want to play for Ireland against Gibraltar and Georgia.

“We know Declan’s decision now and we continue to plan for the games next month.”

Rice was capped from U16 to U21 level with Ireland, and earned three senior caps in the first half of 2018. That these came in international friendlies meant he was never officially tied down for Ireland, and his accelerated development with West Ham and the Premier League caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.

 

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Gavin Cooney

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