'I sincerely apologise for any offence cause' - Declan Rice issues statement after 'Up the Ra' tweets resurface
Declan Rice has issued a statement offering his 'sincere apology' after the emergence of social media messages from in 2015 that appeared to show his support for the IRA.
West Ham midfielder Rice played three senior internationals for the Republic of Ireland before confirming his intention to switch his allegiances to England last month.
His move has been the subject of huge debate across the game in recent weeks, with the latest developments a source of real embarrassment for Rice as he is currently training with the England team after his first call-up for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Rumours suggesting he would issue a statement on the social media messages emerged on Thursday and it duly arrived as he posted this messages on Instagram.
"I am aware that a poorly-expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media," he wrote, commenting on posts he made when he was 15-year-old.
"I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my team-mates at the time could be negatively interpreted.
"While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused."
England's Football Association have confirmed that they will not punish Rice for the messages, but have written to him to warn him of his future conduct.
England manager Gareth Southgate was quizzed on the issue when he faced the media on Thursday, as he confirmed Rice could still make his debut in Friday's Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic at Wembley.
"It won't affect anything in that respect," Southgate said. "He's fitted in really well with the team. He's looked excellent. There isn't a player that has been in the squad who I would hesitate to start in the game, so I am very confident in all of them."