Why Declan Rice chose England over Ireland.

Following the news that Declan Rice will make his full debut for England in tonight’s Euro 2020 qualifier, let’s take a closer look into the thoughts behind his switch from green to white.

Rice’s controversial decision has sparked debate around social media for recent weeks, with many pundits and ex-players of both England and Republic of Ireland respectively having their say.

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In his words.

On February 13th, Rice publicly announced his commitment to the Three Lions in a statement which was published on his Twitter account (@_DeclanRice).

At the beginning of the quotes, Rice acknowledged that he sought advice in what he felt was “an extremely difficult decision”. He also went on to say that he “discussed the situation with the people who mean most to me”, in reference to his “parents, family, girlfriend and closest friends”.

The West Ham midfielder was very respectful in his words, devoting numerous paragraphs to the Irish fans, players and staff who’ve helped him along the way. Rice thanked the Ireland national team for “not only their support and understanding throughout this period, but for the part they have played in my (Rice) development as a young player”.

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Growing up with Irish affiliations, there is no doubt that Rice would have closely watched ex-Ireland captain, Roy Keane. Being both defensive minded midfielders, Rice would have taken elements of Keane’s game and moulded it into his own. Notorious for his critical comments, Keane didn’t hold back when expressing his views on the matter.

In a press conference hosted before Ireland played two friendlies against France and United States in May last year, Keane reacted to comments made by David Gold, West Ham’s chairman. Gold provokingly said on TalkSport that he is “looking forward to the new manager (Manuel Pellegrini) turning Declan Rice into a strong England defender”.

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After Rice had already represented Ireland internationally, Keane said, “Where else would he want to go? If you had a choice: Ireland or England? It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Ireland”.

To close the statement, Rice reinforced that he never intended for the details to get so complicated, he had “always tried to be completely honest and true”.

Three Lions roaring!

Placing aside emotional reasons, the decision between representing Ireland or England is all but a straightforward choice for any footballer.

In relation to squad depth and quality, England are a comfortably richer nation in those of Ireland. The latest squad released by Republic of Ireland housed only 8 players currently playing in the Premier League, none of which playing in Europe.

In comparison to England, their squad holds 14 players taking part in this year’s Champions League with a further number of 24 who play for Premier League clubs.

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With England’s national team being in the best place it has been in over 20 years, there is the promising thought of International silverware for the players.

After reaching the World Cup Semi-finals in Russia and set to play the Nations League Semi-final in June this year, it Is inconceivable to the fact that Rice has a greater opportunity winning titles with England.

What the future holds.

Being only 20 years of age, Rice will hope to represent England in numerous World Cups and other tournaments in the upcoming years of his career.

In today’s market, a defensive midfield player has become more desirable and expensive to find with the position being essential to the way teams wish to play.

As Fernandinho of Manchester City is coming to the end of an illustrious career, it is hard not to imagine Rice being in the thoughts of Pep Guardiola, especially with City missing out on Frankie De Jong to Barcelona in January.

With the midfield being a congested area for England, marquee players such as James Maddison were left out of the latest squad. Rice will hope to make a mark tonight against Montenegro in hope to cement a regular position within the team.

How high of a level do you think Declan Rice can reach in his career?

Matthew Butterworth.

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