Sunday 24 March 2019

'If you’re a 'proud Englishman', why play for us in the first place?' - Kevin Kilbane leads reaction to Declan Rice decision

Declan Rice has announced that he is declaring for England. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Declan Rice has announced that he is declaring for England. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Declan Rice's decision to declare for England over Ireland has sparked a huge reaction, with people from Gary Lineker to Kevin Kilbane weighing in on what is a huge setback for Irish football.

Although Rice won three international caps for Ireland, he was still able to switch his international allegiance to England as his appearances were all in friendly matches.

The West Ham youngster, who has excelled in the Premier League this season, confirmed this afternoon that he wishes to play for Gareth Southgate's England team, in a huge blow to Mick McCarthy ahead of the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

Rice released a statement explaining his choice, saying that he is of 'mixed nationality'.

Read more: 'I consider myself to be of mixed nationality' - Massive blow for Ireland as Declan Rice declares for England

"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.

Former Ireland midfielder Kevin Kilbane, who came out strongly against Rice playing for Ireland after the 20-year-old asked for more time to consider his options last September, didn't hold back in offering his opinion on the decision.

"If you’re a 'proud Englishman' then why play for us in the first place?," Kilbane said.

Speaking tonight on Virgin Media Sport, he added: "I can't understand his decision to play for us in the first place.

"The line that stands out for me is, 'I'm a proud Engishman' if you're a proud Englishman, don't come and play for us.

"It's been dragged on now for five-six months since he decided against taking the call-up for the Nations League. It was done then. I wouldn't have taken the decision to call him up again. He'd had his head turned. It was done.

"I would've taken that line out of the statement, if he doesn't want to antagonise people any further.

"Good luck to him but the suggestion that Mick McCarthy should go and chase, that Martin O'Neill should go and chase him. I don't buy that for one minute.

"I think FIFA have to seriously look at this rule that you can play for one nation and then declare for another.

"I don't believe any player should be able to do that and this makes a mockery of it and I think it makes a mockery of our system as well

"We are actively going over to England and targeting players knowing full well that they can make this decision, it was different 10-15 years ago.

"This stinks in my mind, how it has come about."

Here is a sample of some of the reaction to Declan Rice's big decision this afternoon.

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