West Ham star Rice commits international future to England

Declan Rice, a youth player for the Republic of Ireland who made three appearances at senior level, has pledged his future to England.

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice   -  Getty Images

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has confirmed he intends to commit his future in international football to England, rather than the Republic of Ireland. 

The 20-year-old was born in London but played for the Republic of Ireland from the Under-16 side upwards, making three senior appearances in friendly matches. 

Rice, whose grandparents are from Cork, agonised over his decision for some months and consulted England boss Gareth Southgate, former Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and his successor, Mick McCarthy. 

He confirmed his intentions in a statement published on Twitter on Wednesday, which read: "This afternoon, I telephoned both Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate to inform them of my decision to submit a written request to FIFA for the transfer of my international registration from the Republic of Ireland to England.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision and, in all honesty, not one I ever expected to be making at this stage of my career.

"In recent weeks and months, I have discussed the situation with the people who mean the most to me. My parents, my family, my girlfriend and my closest friends. I have also spoken to Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy, Gareth Southgate and to friends and colleagues within the game whose opinion I respect.

"I am truly grateful for the support I have received in leading to this decision.

"Like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. I am a proud Englishman, having been born and raised in London. However, I am just as proud of my family's Irish heritage and my affinity and connection with the country. 

"I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and 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. 

"Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future. 

"I fully accept that some Irish supporters will be disappointed by my decision, and that everyone has different opinions in regard to the rules around international representation. However, I hope that people can understand that I have made this decision with honesty, integrity and the full support of my family.

"My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was 100 per cent genuine. It was a great honour for myself and my family, and something I will always cherish. 

"I would also like to make it clear that, in requesting to transfer my national team representation, I am not taking for granted a call-up to the England squad or making any assumptions about my future international career. However, out of respect for the Republic of Ireland, I felt it was right to announce this decision now and put an end to the speculation."

McCarthy said via a statement: "Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him." 

Once FIFA ratifies Rice's registration change, he will be eligible to be called up for England's squad for the Euro 2020 qualifying matches against the Czech Republic and Montenegro next month. 

He would also be in line to represent Southgate's side at the inaugural Nations League Finals in June.

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