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Declan Rice pinpoints the attribute he picked up from watching Roy Keane

Rice

As far as midfield role models go, this quartet is hard to beat.

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has detailed how watching legendary Premier League midfielders like Roy Keane helped him to improve his game.

Rice has established himself as one of the Premier League’s finest young midfielders, attracting interest from Chelsea during the summer.

The 21-year-old has also cemented his place in the England team after switching his allegiance from Ireland in 2019, with 13 caps to his name already.

Rice

And Rice admits that he honed his skills by studying some of the Premier League’s greatest midfielders, including Keane, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Rice said: “I watched the top players like Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira and every time they see a bit of space, they’d drive into it and look powerful and strong and as a holding midfielder that’s rare these days, so if I can keep adding that into my game, I can keep catching the eye.

‘They never overcomplicated things’ 

“They, as well as [Roy] Keane and [Claude] Makelele, were wonderful footballers but they never overcomplicated things and knew what their games were and knew what their weaknesses were, and I do too.

“I think some fans are calling on social media for me to get the ball off Lukasz Fabianski and run the whole length of the pitch and score with the back of my head, but that’s not my job!

Rice

“My job is to protect the team, have good positional awareness, get on the ball, keep it simple and keep it ticking.

“I know what my strengths are and what to base my game around.”

Rice was coached by Keane for a brief time during their spell together in the Ireland set-up when Keane was Martin O’Neill’s assistant.

And while the Hammers favourite has played in defence for David Moyes’ side, he believes he is best suited to a midfield role.

“I see this as my position, 100 per cent,” he added.

“I’ve played in midfield for the last three seasons and I think a lot of people get carried away with what they want me to do!

“My role is a holding midfielder and there’s not really any flair in that. I’m disciplined, I make sure I’m always available for the team, I’m always in position, I get my passes off quick, I intercept and I tackle. I think a lot of people want to see things like step-overs and I’ve got that in the locker, but that’s not my role!

“I can play at centre-half, but I’ve got much more to give and I think my confidence is growing in midfield. The more I start driving forward with the ball like I’ve done in recent games, the more I’ll grow into that position.”

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