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'I’ve known for two months' - Mick McCarthy reveals details of call with Declan Rice

The Irish manager expected the West Ham midfielder to choose England.

Mick McCarthy at the launch of the FAI's new ticketing scheme, Club Ireland.
Mick McCarthy at the launch of the FAI's new ticketing scheme, Club Ireland.

IRISH MANAGER MICK McCarthy today clarified that he knew Declan Rice wasn’t going to commit to the Republic of Ireland two months prior to the player’s public statement. 

20-year-old Rice was at the heart of a lengthy tug-of-war between England and Ireland for his services, with the West Ham midfielder finally declaring for England a fortnight ago. 

Rice met with McCarthy and assistant manager Robbie Keane in December, and in spite of stories at the time claiming the FAI were confident that he would commit to Ireland, McCarthy told The42 that he knew Rice had chosen England when the player failed to confirm his final decision at an agreed date. 

“I was hopeful. Having had that meeting, he was to tell me [his decision] in a couple of weeks, on the Monday. But [by the stage that date had pased] he still hadn’t made his mind up.

“From that day onwards, I’ve pretty much known he wouldn’t be staying with us.

“And despite the fact that I’ve sat down with all the press guys and outlets and said ‘I’m still hopeful’, I wasn’t going to say that openly as it would be like me driving him away.

“I didn’t think he would be staying with us. I thought he had made his mind up, and he was waiting until the appropriate moment to tell us, whenever that was.” 

McCarthy says he wasn’t frustrated that it took so long for Rice to publicly confirm his intentions. 

“Not really, no. I was just pleased when he told me. He phoned to say ‘it’s a pleasure’ and I went ‘hold on a moment, if you’re not..’

“That’s what he said to me.

“‘Mick, it was an honour’ and I said ‘hold on, I don’t want to hear that, if you’re not playing for us then crack on and good luck’.

“That’s what I said and I thought I was a little bit curt at the time, so I sent him a nice text to wish him good luck.

“I’ve known for two months. I told him ‘Declan, I’ve known for two months you wouldn’t be playing for us, I just wanted you to confirm it.’

“When he did, that’s it. Done.” 

The conclusion of the saga means that Rice will not be among McCarthy’s squad for next month’s double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia. 

Mick McCarthy was speaking at the official relaunch of the Club Ireland memberships, a distinct Premium Level offering from the general admission season tickets. Membership of Club Ireland is on sale from today Wednesday, 27 February and can be purchased VIA: fai.ie/clubireland; by emailing Club Ireland clubireland@fai.ie or by calling 01 899 9547

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Gavin Cooney

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