Ahead of his potential debut for the England national team on Friday, Declan Rice has had to apologize for his past comments on social media.
Rice, 20, switched his allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England last month after his rise to stardom in the Premier League over the past 12 months.
The West Ham academy produce made three friendly appearances for the Ireland senior team, as well as playing for their U17 side, but was born in England and FIFA approved his switch to represent the Three Lions.
Rice has apologized for the comments he made on social media in 2015 in response to his Irish teammates as he responded “up the RA” which is short for the IRA and “Wait until we get England” on Instagram.
“I am aware that a poorly-expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media,” Rice said. “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 apologize for any offence caused.”
Rice was called up to the England national team for the first time on Mar. 13 and is in line to play against the Czech Republic on Friday and against Montenegro next Monday in the Three Lions’ EURO 2020 qualifiers.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Declan Rice had been selected for Ireland’s Young Player of the Year award, though he will not be present to celebrate his honor at an awards ceremony on Sunday.
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That’s because the 20-year-old will be with the England team after receiving his first call-up after switching international allegiances earlier this year. The call came from Gareth Southgate‘s Three Lions on Wednesday and will have Rice in camp for EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
“His form warrants it,” Southgate said of West Ham’s rising star. “It’s been a well-publicized situation with Declan. We’ve tracked him for quite a while … His form has been excellent. We like what we see. … There aren’t many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League.”
England’s 25-man squad
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
LONDON (AP) FIFA has approved defensive midfielder Declan Rice switching his international allegiance from Ireland to England.
With Irish heritage but born in London, the 20-year-old Rice has said he considers himself “to be of mixed nationality.”
The West Ham player last month ended months of uncertainty over which national team he would commit to by announcing his plans to play for England.
Rice has played three times for Ireland, but only in friendlies rather than competitive games. That allows for the nationality switch.
FIFA told The Associated Press on Tuesday that “the change of association has been approved.”
England reached the semifinals at last year’s World Cup and will play in the UEFA Nations League final four in June.
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- Rice scores early header
- Noble converts penalty
- West Ham move 9th, four back of 7th
Declan Rice and Mark Noble scored first half goals to lead West Ham United to a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United on Saturday at the London Stadium.
West Ham United has closed ground on Wolves in the race for 7th with the win.
Newcastle United remains six points clear of 18th place with nine matches to play.
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West Ham struck early through Rice, who lost Federico Fernandez while jockeying for position pre-corner and put a simple header past Martin Dubravka.
Ayoze Perez was offside for a 28th minute equalizer bid. Sean Longstaff then played a beautiful diagonal ball into the West Ham box to no avail.
West Ham earned a penalty, when Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was taken down in the box by Florian Lejeune. Noble went to the spot and finished well for 2-0.
Fabian Schar nearly turned a second chance off a corner kick into a goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage, but it was blocked out for a corner and the Irons saw their lead into halftime.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
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Perez’s shot across goal could’ve easily been 2-1, but it was too wayward to be a goal and too hard to meet a receiver.
Arthur Masuaku cued up Hernandez with a diagonal beauty, but the Mexican’s first touch wasn’t enough.
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West Ham United defensive midfielder Declan Rice has made a decision on his international future, saying it was very difficult but his “heart and his head” say to file a one-time switch to represent England over the Republic of Ireland.
The 20-year-old was capped thrice for the Republic of Ireland, but his rise to a fixture under two managers at West Ham catapulted the possibilities of his representing the country of his birth, England.
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He was capped by Ireland at the U-16, U-17, U-19, and U-21 levels by Ireland before playing the full-90 for the senior team in a trio of 2018 friendlies against France, Turkey, and the U.S.
“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.”
Read the full statement below. It’s a hammer blow to what could’ve been a decade-long answer to Ireland’s midfield, and a risk for Rice. That said, his promise is nearly immeasurable.