(Originally published on June 10, 2021).
“It was done then.”
Declan Rice has spoken about his decision to switch international teams from the Republic of Ireland to England.
In February 2019, Rice officially announced that he wanted to play for England, the country of his birth.
However, the West Ham United midfielder has revealed he had made his decision during the 2018 World Cup.
Declan Rice on his decision to switch from Ireland to England.
In 2018, Rice made three appearances for Ireland in friendlies. The midfielder’s final game for the Boys in Green was a man of the match performance against the United States at the Aviva Stadium in June of that year.
Just a few weeks after playing in that friendly, Rice had decided that he wanted to play for England. Yet, he didn’t make his decision public until the following year.
The Londoner met with then-Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and the uncertainly around his international future lasted months.
However, the England midfielder has revealed he made his mind up after cheering on Gareth Southgate’s team as they reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Declan Rice: I decided to play for England during the 2018 World Cup.
“Honestly, the World Cup was buzzing… I was actually in Dubai,” Rice told reporters on Wednesday.
“There was a massive football fan zone with a massive dome and it was crazy. It was mental.
“I remember watching the Panama game, the Tunisia game, the Sweden game. It was incredible.
“The singing before the game, the national anthem. Just being a part of it. I was a fan for that tournament. So, to be part of this tournament is unbelievable.”
Time really does fly! ⚒❤️
🗓 #OnThisDay four years ago, @_DeclanRice made his West Ham United debut… pic.twitter.com/HxU99Ffidd
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 21, 2021
Rice was asked if he had made his decision while watching England play in the World Cup.
“Yeah, it was done then,” he answered.
“We spoke about it so much but obviously growing up watching England in tournaments as well… You just feel the proper buzz, the effects and the desire of the country for the players to do well.”
Declan Rice’s international career.
Rice, 22, played for Ireland at underage level and impressed in his three caps for the senior team.
Since switching to England, the midfielder has played 17 times for Southgate’s side and looks set to start for the Three Lions in their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on Sunday.
Read next: Jack Grealish explains why he switched from Ireland to England.
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