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Dublin: 9°C Monday 12 April 2021

'It's an embarrassment' - Kilbane slams FAI award for Declan Rice

The West Ham star was named the 2018 Young the Player of the year after recently declaring for England.

Kilbane speaking about Rice on the Virgin Media panel.
Kilbane speaking about Rice on the Virgin Media panel.

KEVIN KILBANE HAS slammed the FAI Young Player of the Year award for Declan Rice “an embarrassment”.

The Ireland international, who is expected to be named in the England squad later today, was announced as the winner following a vote taken by a panel of five Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland members in January.

Rice’s award was based on his international performances in 2018, which consisted of three games for the Republic of Ireland.

The voting was done before Rice made the switch to declare for England last month, and the West Ham star will not be in Dublin to collect his award at the ’3′ FAI International Awards ceremony.

“Just scrap the award,” Kilbane told Virgin Media Sport, having previously expressed his frustrations about Rice’s international future.

“We are struggling for underage players we know that. Don’t have the award, we don’t need to.

I think it’s an embarrassment personally. We’ve been embarrassed enough as it is so if we’re going down this road now… don’t get me started because there’s too much to talk about.

“I think we have to move on from it, he’s gone. He’s an English player now. He is English, he’s declared for them.”

Niall Quinn, who was also on the TV panel, echoed Kilbane’s feelings on the award, saying he ”thought it was someone messing with me when I heard it first.”

“They should give it to the guy in second and forget about Declan Rice forever,” he added. 

“I just feel it’s a really strange thing to have to put up with as a fan. We went through enough heartache but when you see someone blatantly turning down the question of being Irish and then getting an award for being Irish, I’m finding it hard to believe.”

Meanwhile, Richie Sadlier has defended the FAI’s decision to give the award to Rice, and believes that the negative reaction is prompted by a feeling of “rejection” following Rice’s decision to switch international allegiances.

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Declan Rice Rice in action for Ireland in 2018. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Speaking on RTÉ’s Soccer Social, he said:

“First of all, is there a player that was more deserving of the award? No. Is there any other player that came close? None whatsoever. There’s no football argument to say he shouldn’t have been given it, but I don’t think people aren’t arguing over football reasons here.

“It’s just hurt pride and should we rewarding somebody who has rejected us in this way, who has walked away, who’s had a look and said ‘no, don’t fancy you I’m going to go somewhere else’.

“A lot of people are hurt by that and people are just reacting from that.

I’d give it to him. I don’t think it’s an award that means much anyway.”

He added that denying Rice the award and ignoring the voting process would seem “petty”.

“I think he deserved the award. There’s no debate over who deserved it more than him. It’s just whether or not you think it’s the appropriate thing to scrap the award because you don’t like that he’s made the subsequent decision.

“I don’t think that reflects well on anyone. Do you give it to anyone else? Who are the other players that we’d give it to.

It’s not for football reasons that you don’t give it to him, is it [for] face-saving reasons? Hurt pride reasons because we feel rejected? You don’t want to reward someone who’s just disappointed you. It seems like they’re petty reasons to take it from him.”

“There’s a broader discussion to be had about where are the other young players coming from? Why are we not rattling through the names of other players who could be worthy recipients of the Young Player of the Year award?

“This is a conversation we’ve been having for years.”

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