'I consider myself to be of mixed nationality' - Massive blow for Ireland as Declan Rice declares for England
Declan Rice has confirmed his intention to swap his international allegiance from Ireland to England in a big blow to Mick McCarthy as he heads into the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
Rice represented Ireland three times, but all of his appearances were in friendlies, which allowed him the opportunity to declare for the nation of his birth since FIFA regulations state that you must play in a competitive fixture to be tied to a country.
In a statement released this afternoon, the West Ham star has confirmed that he wishes to play for Gareth Southgate's England team, in what is a huge setback for McCarthy, who returned for his second spell as Ireland manager after the departure of Martin O'Neill in November.
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: "Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him."
In his statement, Declan Rice said that his pride while wearing the Irish jersey was '100% genuine'.
"This has been an extremely difficult decision and in all honesty, one that I never expected to be making at this stage of my career," Rice said.
"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.
"Ultimately, it is a personal decision I 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. However, I hope that people can understand that I made this decision with honesty, integrity and with the full support of my family.
If you’re a “proud Englishman” then why play for us in the first place?— Kevin Kilbane (@kdkilbane77) February 13, 2019
He’s one of our own....He’s one of our own...Declan Rice....he’s one of our own.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 13, 2019
The Rice statement is very well crafted but - still - there's no doubt his legacy is that every English born young lad in the Irish set-up will now be viewed as a possible defector no matter what they say or do (anthem singing/badge kissing) because he went further than any other— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) February 13, 2019
Declan Rice happens to be just the type of midfielder England need if they’re going to keep progressing.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) February 13, 2019
No surprise Declan Rice has decided to declare for England. Rumour has it he decided last month.— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) February 13, 2019
Rules should change to stop situations like this in the future. Once you earn a cap for your country, that should be it. Shouldn’t be allowed to switch at a later date pic.twitter.com/pAtcV3Xkmw
Rice is today's story, but bigger story is system abuse.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 13, 2019
Playing 23 times at age group level with lots of coaching hours/future planning invested, is troubling.
Simple rule. On signing pro, you chose your flag.
Avoids messing around people who also have "honesty and integrity"
I WILL NEVER TURN MY BACK ON YOU IRELAND pic.twitter.com/23FH6d1oOi— David O'Doherty (@phlaimeaux) February 13, 2019
"My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was always 100% genuine. It was a great honour for myself and my family and something that 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 my 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."
More to follow