West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice has outlined that he always knew the controversy surrounding his international switch from Ireland would “blow over” and that he never took much notice of the negative attention that it garnered.
In August of 2018, Martin O’Neill left the West Ham man out of his squad for the games against Poland and Northern Ireland and outlined that Rice was still deliberating over his international future after interest from Gareth Southgate and England.
After an arduous tug-of-war between the two countries, Rice eventually decided to make the move to England, the country of his birth, despite making three friendly appearances for the Boys in Green last summer.
The decision has certainly been a beneficial one for England with Rice impressing in the games he has played for Southgate’s side, while his outstanding performances at club level have seen him linked with a move to the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City.
Despite all the controversy surrounding his decision to leave the Irish setup and the ill-will that it resulted in towards him, Rice explained that his laid back nature meant that he never really took too much notice of the Irish outcry.
“Most people would have thought that was tough to take on, with loads of papers in Ireland writing about me and Irish players speaking about me.
“But it is always going to blow over and I am so laid-back, I do not really take much notice of it.”
As a part of the English squad, Rice is currently gearing up for their UEFA Nations League semi-final clash with The Netherlands later this week.
The West Ham midfielder explained that the upcoming game against Ronald Koeman’s side and the challenge of going head to head with Barcelona wonderkid Frenkie De Jong is all that he is focused on as of now.
“He is a fantastic player. I am relishing the chance to put myself up against him.
“You cannot give him too much respect on the pitch because that is when he starts to dictate the game.
“You have got to be dirty, up in his face and try and disrupt him from playing his game. I am sure as a team we will do well to stop the Dutch.
“This will be, if I am involved, the biggest game of my life. We are in the semi-finals against a great side.”
“I am just focused on what I have got to do for club and country. I have had to be mentally strong and I have been like that since I was a kid.”