West Ham youngling Declan Rice has confirmed that he plans to pursue an international career with England rather than Republic of Ireland.
Though born in London, 20-year-old Rice qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandparents and has made 13 appearances for the Boys In Green, including three at senior level.
However, those three caps all came in non-competitive/friendly matches, meaning under FIFA rules he was still free and able to make the switch.
Rice has today issued a thorough, respectful statement announcing he wishes to be considered for England selection from henceforth.
This has been an extremely difficult decision and, in all honestly, not one I expected to making at this stage of my career.
In recent weeks and months, I have discussed the situation with the people that mean the most to me.
Like many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. I am a proud Englishman […] However, I am just as proud of my family’s Irish heritage and my affinity and connection to the country.
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.
The defensive midfielder, who has excelled for the Hammers so far this season, shared his thoughts on social media.
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) 13 February 2019
Having been informed of Rice’s decision, Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy told BBC Sport:
Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him.
All seems fairly amicable between the two associations, and Rice comes across as a thoughtful and humble individual.
Along with the likes of Phil Foden, Harry Winks, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Cook, James Maddison et al, it’s good to see such a promising, versatile defensive player added to England’s plentiful midfield options in and around the Under-21 bracket, too.
An England Under-21 eligible list, as 2018 ends.
Strength in depth like nothing we've seen for a long time. Every outfielder listed has had top-flight league minutes this season. pic.twitter.com/I5cTM2DENM
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) 31 December 2018
How’s that for a potential Under-21 European Championship squad?