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Southgate speaking at this evening's press conference.
Southgate speaking at this evening's press conference.
Image: Steven Paston

'He was 15 or 16 in a social conversation with friends' - Southgate shows support for Rice

The England manager has played down the latest controversy involving his newest recruit.
Mar 21st 2019, 6:19 PM 11,758 31

ENGLAND MANAGER GARETH Southgate expressed his support for Declan Rice after the West Ham midfielder apologised for old social media posts that appeared to express support for the IRA.

Rice, 20, is in the England squad for the first time for Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic tomorrow and Montenegro four days later having switched his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.

Comments made on social media in 2015 surfaced today with the hashtag ‘UPTHERA’.

“I am aware that a poorly-expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media,” said Rice in a statement.

“I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my team-mates at the time could be negatively interpreted.

“While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused.”

Southgate played down the controversy by pointing out how young Rice would have been at the time of the comments.

He’s apologised,” said the England manager. “It’s not representative of what he believes and feels and his views.

“The obvious point is it was when he was 15 or 16 in a social conversation with friends where I think any of us at that age have probably said things, written things, discussed things that might not look the way we’d want them several years later.”

© – AFP 2019

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