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Irish Hammer 2:37 Thu Dec 30
Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
⚒️ Well worth a read, couldn’t post the stats diagrams and pictures etc.

The rise of Declan Rice: From being released by Chelsea to 150 games for West Ham and being ‘a bargain at £100m’

Declan Rice is the midfielder who initially feared he was going to be released by West Ham United, the midfielder who was not considered one of the promising prospects at the club, and also the player who Gianfranco Zola was surprised to see taken off in the European Championship final.

It has been a remarkable journey for Rice. With the 22-year-old set to make his 150th league appearance against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, this is the story about how he has used disappointment to fuel his motivation, and how he transitioned from a centre-back into one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

School years: “Declan never missed a game for the school team”

Rice’s ascent to becoming an England international started at Grey Court. The secondary school is based in Richmond, south-west London, and it is here where Rice excelled under the tutelage of headteacher Chris Rhodes and PE teacher Stephen Willmore.

Although he was on the books at Chelsea, Rice was passionate about representing his school. This set him apart from other young players who played for academies, as Rhodes recalls.

“We used to do staff vs students,” he tells The Athletic. “Declan wanted to play in it so badly and I told him he couldn’t play because he was just too valuable. If he had got injured, we would’ve been sued for millions!

“He kept begging to play and that confirmed it for me he lived and breathed football. The staff were beating the students 4-0 and I let Declan play the last 10 minutes, and then he went and scored a brilliant goal. But when he came on, no one wanted to tackle him. Although he played for Chelsea’s academy, Declan desperately wanted to play for the school and that makes me so proud.”

Rice was in Year 9 when he was informed Chelsea were not going to offer him a contract for another year at the academy. He moved to West Ham in the summer of 2013 to club accommodation in Romford and left Grey Court to go to Robert Clack School in Dagenham, where the east London side place their GCSE-age scholars.

The midfielder attended Grey Court for three years, and Willmore is happy he was able to play a small role in Rice’s journey. When the midfielder landed back in the UK after helping England conclude their Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 win over Kosovo in November 2019, Rice, on his day off, took a trip to his old secondary school to surprise the students.

“When he got back from that Kosovo game, he said, ‘Sir, can I come in on the Tuesday?’ He came in at 8.30am and stayed until 1pm. We walked around the school and talked about old stuff, and at lunch he went out on the playground and all he did for half an hour was sign shirts and take pictures.

“I got a group of kids together and they did a Q&A with him and he spoke about what he’s gone through. My door was getting knocked on for fun when we were trying to have lunch. I had to tell the kids to give him space. It’s like he needed his own bodyguard to get him around the school!”

Chelsea years: “I never for a minute expected Dec not to be offered a contract”

“When Dec got released by Chelsea he was really down and disappointed,” says West Ham’s former academy director Tony Carr. “Our head of recruitment, Dave Hunt, said to me that Chelsea were letting a couple of players go and that we should have a look at them. After a few weeks, Declan showed that he had talent, he could pass the ball and control it. He understood the game a little bit for a young lad. We had no hesitation in signing him at that point.”

“They had some great players at the time, but in hindsight someone has made a terrible decision,” says ex-West Ham academy director Terry Westley. “But Dec may have got frozen out at Chelsea. So the best thing for me was to move and go somewhere where the pathway was going to open up for him.”

It has been eight years since Rice was released by Chelsea and we are still none the wiser about what led to his departure. He joined Chelsea as a seven-year-old and the midfielder has spoken openly in interviews about being reduced to tears when he left his boyhood club. But in many ways, this setback forced Rice to toughen up and step out of his comfort zone at West Ham.

At Chelsea, the midfielder played alongside Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah, Dan Kemp (now at Leyton Orient), Dapo Afolayan (now with Bolton Wanderers), Mason Mount, Reece James, Rhian Brewster (now with Sheffield United), and Trevoh Chalobah. Quite often it was John Terry who would be monitoring their progress.

“I have so many good memories with Dec,” says Kemp. “We played a tournament in Venlo in Holland and we won on penalties. It was the first trophy myself and Dec won. Then we played against some big teams in an under-13 tournament in Belgium. In Russia, we travelled to Samara which was another incredible experience. John Terry went above and beyond for us. He would watch most of our games in training.”

It was Terry who reached out to Rice when he found out the youngster had been released.

“When I was released by Chelsea he called for 45 minutes and I remember I was sat in my room next to my dad,” Rice said in an interview with The Times. “It was John Terry — I could not believe it.”

Kemp played for Chelsea’s academy from under-8 to under-17. He was reunited with Rice when he joined West Ham’s academy in 2015. Kemp considers Rice, who also worked as a ball boy at Stamford Bridge, to be one of his close friends and still remains surprised the midfielder was let go.

“We were at an age where we knew it would be decided if we’d be offered deals,” he says. “I never for a minute expected Dec not to be offered a contract. I thought myself, Dec and Mason Mount would stay and kick on for another two years, so it was a massive shock when the club let Dec go.”

West Ham under-23s: “He got released by Chelsea and he was worried it was going to happen again”

“The only thing I can assume is that Chelsea thought he wasn’t big enough or tall enough,” says Carr. “I remember he came back after one pre-season and he had grown quite quickly. He was a midfield player and came into our under-14 team. He blended in with the team and became part and parcel of the academy very quickly.”

Upon his release, the midfielder initially had interest from Fulham and Tottenham. Hunt — who was West Ham’s head of academy recruitment — knew the key to convincing Rice to sign was convincing his family West Ham were the right club for his development.

(Photo: Sean Rice)
“He went to Fulham the day after he got released,” he says. “He was on their doorstep so I told him to come and train with us and he was outstanding. I’ve known Declan since he was nine and Chelsea had a good youth team at the time.

“But he came in and stood out straight away. He comes from a great family and I told them I would personally drive Declan back to the family home if he got unhappy or homesick. In the end, they started to feel comfortable because people at the club looked after him.

“They liked the fact we were a family club. We were in it for the good of the kids. That’s the culture we created which helped us sign players like Declan. I generally believe that was one of the reasons he signed.

Rice was 15 when he moved out of the family house to live in the club’s accommodation in Romford. The midfielder has spoken about the challenges he faced while being away from family. He suffered from homesickness and would often plead with his parents, Sean and Stephanie, to pick him up. Carr, Hunt, Liam Manning, Steve Potts and Mark Phillips played important roles in helping Rice settle at the club.

But perhaps none more so than Dennis Lepine, the club’s mini-bus driver. He was a father figure for Rice and took the young midfielder under his wing. Lepine passed away in June 2020.

Although Rice has developed into one of the best midfielders in the league, not many are aware of the challenges he faced at West Ham. At the time, Reece Oxford was widely considered the outstanding talent and other up-and-coming prospects received professional deals ahead of Rice. Having suffered rejection at Chelsea, the midfielder was concerned he was going to be released once more.

“I remember having a conversation with him after dinner,” says Harrogate Town defender Lewis Page. “Dec wasn’t sure if he was going to get a scholarship with West Ham. He got released by Chelsea and he was worried it was going to happen again.

“I was always confident he was going to get one, but at the time the club weren’t sure what was Dec’s best position. Reece Oxford was the main talent at centre-back and I’m not sure if the club thought Dec was good enough to play in midfield. You had Josh Cullen and Ben Marlow who were ahead of him. But they took the chance and it’s paid off ever since.”

(Photo: Arfa Griffiths)
On May 2, 2015, Rice, Jake Eggleton, Jahmal Hector-Ingram, and Anthony Scully signed their scholarship contracts at Upton Park at half-time during the league fixture against Burnley. Seven months later, just over a year after joining the academy, Rice signed his first professional contract with the club.

“At West Ham, I was the last person to be offered a scholarship,” said Rice. “I remember an under-18 match against Fulham. I was 16 and had to prove myself. Everyone else already had their scholarship. It was probably one of my best games. Knowing that every day I’d have to fight has made me into the person I am today.”

Josh Cullen, who joined Anderlecht from West Ham in 2020, believes Rice’s mindset has been a huge factor behind him proving people wrong.

“One of his biggest attributes is his mentality,” he says. “If you go to any academy in the country you will see lots of talented players — but what separates players like Dec from the others, is they have that reliance and strong mentality to push through hard times.

“I remember playing alongside Dec in his first under-23 game. This game always stands out to me because we played Brighton at The Amex. Dec played as a centre-back that game and he was confident. He was probably 16 or 17 at the time and he was brilliant. He showed his leadership that day, it was a new environment for him, yet he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion or coach players in front of him.

“It was a strange one with Dec because at the time he wasn’t the standout player. But you could see the quality he had. It was just a case of his body developing.

“I remember dropping him home at digs once. His age group had been offered scholarships and a few boys were offered professional deals. But Dec had only been offered a scholarship and he was a bit frustrated and down, which is natural. I told him not to worry about it because you have years to work hard and get what he deserved. Look at him now. I’m delighted to see how well he’s doing.”

When Rice progressed to the under-23s he was a recipient in 2016 of the Dylan Tombides Award — given annually to the academy’s outstanding player, with previous winners being Oxford and Cullen. The midfielder also won the Young Player of the Year Award for 2016-17 and 2017-18 — the first time someone had won the award in two successive seasons. Among his list of achievements for the under-23s, was winning the Premier League 2 Division 2 title in 2016-17 and the under-21 Premier League Cup.

(Photo: Arfa Griffiths)
Many forget Rice played as a holding midfielder at Chelsea. He had only been asked by coaches at West Ham to play at centre-back due to a lack of defensive options. Oxford was training with the first team, and would later become the club’s youngest debutant at 16, while defender Reece Burke was on loan at League Two side Bradford City.

“One of our coaches said we should play him as a centre-back because for this particular game we were short of options in defence,” says Carr. “He took to it like a duck to water. The game was in front of him and in effect it became easier for him.”

It was Matt Upson, the former West Ham defender, who was Rice’s mentor. Every Tuesday and Thursday after training they would go through video clips and Upson would provide feedback on what the youngster needed to work on.

“When he was helping me at West Ham I was a centre-back,” said Rice following the 2-1 loss to Manchester City in November. “I feel like as I’ve progressed and got taller, stronger and better on the ball, I’ve moved into midfield — I’ve built the confidence to play there. Now that is where I feel I influence the game the most. I feel like if I went back to the back I wouldn’t have much impact on the game.”

Staff at West Ham knew Rice’s leadership and confidence meant he would excel in the future — Rice was 17 when he was appointed captain of the under-23s by Westley. Despite being one of the youngest players in the team, Rice’s leadership on and off the field impressed staff.

“He demanded excellence from every player in training and that’s unusual from a young player,” says Westley. “When we looked at Dec we felt we had to make him captain.

“We used to do something called clean feedback where players and staff would be ruthlessly honest. Not everyone could take it, though. If some players were told something wasn’t good enough, or they didn’t work hard enough then they would crumble. If it wasn’t for clean feedback I’m not sure if Dec would’ve got to where he is now. He always wants you to be honest with him. Don’t give him any bullshit, just tell him the truth.

“Now he’s continually getting better. Being captain of West Ham and playing for England isn’t enough for Dec. He won’t settle for just being good. Being good is quite common. But there aren’t many who are great.”

Rise to the first team: “The scary thing about Rice is he’s this good and he’s nowhere near his prime”

Hidden in the archives of Michail Antonio’s Instagram is a video of a gangly Rice, standing on a chair, swaying side to side and confidently singing the lyrics to R Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest”.

The video was taken in July 2017 during the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria, where Rice left a lasting impression. He immersed himself in the pranks and caught the eye in friendlies against Sturm Graz II, Fulham and Werder Bremen.

Two months earlier, former manager Slaven Bilic had handed Rice his first-team debut against Burnley and initially the hope was for the then 18-year-old to provide competition to Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate.

In the space of four years, he has thrived while deputising as captain for Noble and been earmarked as a future England captain. Many believe the turning point in Rice’s West Ham career was a pre-season trip to America in 2016, as Page explains.

“He didn’t have his growth spurt by then,” he says. “He was gangly but not really tall. Then within three months he turned into a monster. I remember we flew to America for a pre-season tour. Before the first team played Seattle Sounders, James Tomkins was sold to Crystal Palace.

“Dec met with us and also played the game against North Carolina FC. He fitted in well.”

The summer of 2016 would also be the year where Rice left a lasting impression on team-mate Aaron Cresswell.

“I know I play with him so I’m not going to sit here and say otherwise, but he is unbelievable,” he said. “I remember a pre-season game, against Rubin Kazan in 2016. Slaven Bilic was manager and he brought on this 17-year-old called Declan Rice.

“I remember him giving the ball away for a goal. How did he react? From the off, he was screaming for the ball. I was thinking, ‘Bloody hell, he’s just given a goal away’ but he was that confident, he could let it go.

“He wanted the ball and to take authority of the game. For someone of that age to do that was unbelievable.”

When Rice made his first-team debut against Burnley in May 2017, he replaced Edimilson Fernandes in the 91st minute. Since then the England international has made 168 appearances in all competitions for the club.

“I sat next to him on the bench before he came up at Turf Moor,” says Kemp. “That’s pretty much where he started his journey. I was disappointed I didn’t get on but to see your best mate make his debut was a great feeling. It’s nice I got to share that moment with him.”

(Photo: Sean Rice)
“When I joined West Ham it was two years prior to giving him a debut,” Slaven Bilic said in an interview with The Athletic. “He’s not a Paul Gascoigne, where every day you have crazy stories. Declan was serious for his age and you only had to tell him once. Some players you tell them something four times and they still don’t get it.

“I remember, after the game against Burnley, I called him into my office but he called me ‘Slav’. Even Mark Noble calls me ‘boss’ or ‘gaffer’ so when Declan Rice said ‘Slav’ I knew it wasn’t in a bad way or disrespectful way but I made my face serious and I said, ‘How did you call me Slav?’ And then he just fucking froze and said, ‘I’m so sorry’. Then I started laughing. That’s probably my favourite memory of Declan.

“If I’m Declan there’s no rush to join a bigger club right now. He’s learning under Moyes and West Ham almost qualified for the Champions League. They’re making good progress. Declan is definitely ready to play for one of the big clubs, but my advice to him would be to keep progressing where you are.”

In December 2018, Rice signed a long-term contract that runs until summer 2024, with a further one-year option. After committing his long-term future to the club, the midfielder was on FaceTime to talk show host James Corden.

At the end of the 2018-19 season, Rice was named on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, which was won by Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling. Rice also made 38 cup and league appearances for the club, scoring two goals. It was an improvement from the previous season where he failed to score and played 31 games in all competitions.

At the end of the 2019-20 season, the England international played 40 cup and league games, the most he has managed in a season. Despite his young age, Rice was becoming one of West Ham’s most important players.

“The scary thing about Rice is he’s this good and he’s nowhere near his prime,” says Cullen. “He has bags of potential to become even better. It’s exciting for West Ham to have a player like that.

“Leaders have an awe about them, it’s hard to put a finger on what stands out, but he has that about him as a leader. When he first trained with the first team he was full of confidence and believed in himself. He wasn’t scared to communicate with the senior players. That can be tough for young players but it didn’t faze Dec at all. It’s no surprise to see how well he’s done.”

Since making his debut in 2017, Rice has won the Young Hammer of the Year award three consecutive seasons from 2017-19. He was runner-up to Marko Arnautovic and Lukasz Fabianski for the Hammer of the Year award in 2018 and 2019. The midfielder would eventually win the award in 2020.

“It is always in my mind every time I step into training and onto the pitch that I am going to train well and I am going to train well,” said Rice. “I’m never stepping on the pitch not confident that I am going to be the best player and I want to be the best player. I feel like if you want to progress you need to have that type of mentality.”

England: “People chat about Mount, Foden, Grealish… but Declan Rice is England’s most important player”

On February 13, 2019, Rice — then 20, switched international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England. Prior to making the decision, the midfielder was capped three times for Mick McCarthy’s side, while also receiving a combined total of 23 caps for the Republic of Ireland from under-16 to under-21.

“This afternoon I telephoned both Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate to inform them of my decision to submit a written request to FIFA for the transfer of my international registration from the Republic of Ireland to England,” he said.

“Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”

Since switching international allegiance, Rice has made 27 appearances for England and has become a hugely important player for Southgate’s side. The midfielder made his debut in March 2019 as a second-half substitute against the Czech Republic. During the same month he made his full start in the emphatic 5-1 win over Montenegro.

Long before a ball had been kicked at this summer’s European Championship, Kevin Nolan, West Ham’s first-team coach, eulogised about how important Rice would be for England.

“He’s a proper player and he’s going to be massive for England in the Euros,” he said in an interview with The Athletic. “I read the papers and they speak about Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish but Dec is going to be more important than all of those players.

“That’s how highly I rate him and that’s no disrespect to anyone else in our squad. This lad just has it all: athleticism, he can pass it, good at heading, defending, he can run. He is absolutely top-notch and most of all he’s the most humble lad.”

On the eve of the final, where England lost via penalty shootout to Italy, The Athletic spoke to West Ham captain Mark Noble. The midfielder has had a positive impact on Rice, ever since watching him play at Dagenham and Redbridge for an under-18 fixture.

“I take pride in how well he has done and what he has achieved in his short career,” said Noble. “He’s such a fantastic player. The great thing about Dec, you probably don’t know how good he is. He’s a massive part of this football club, we were all gutted he didn’t come home with the England trophy.”

Rice played in all of England’s seven games at the Euros. Many were surprised when the midfielder was replaced by Jordan Henderson in the 74th minute in the final, including the opposition.

“This summer I was talking to Salvatore Sirigu who was Italy’s second goalkeeper for the Euros,” Gianfranco Zola said to BT Sport.

“He was on the bench and he said to me — because we had a chat about the final — ‘We couldn’t believe when he (Rice) came off because we thought he was the best player they had, immediately we thought he was injured or a problem like that’.

“They were very pleased when he came off. He is a real sponge for tactical information and observations on his game and is desperate to be the best he can possibly be.”

There is an argument that the outcome of the final may have been different had Rice stayed on.

“His game is evolving even further now and he was arguably England’s best player,” says Westley. “Dec was outstanding against Italy. I think Gareth and the sports science people looked at where Dec’s energy levels dropped off. That’s the trouble with stats sometimes. When you watch it with your eyes you’ll know when it’s not the right time to take a player off. He was playing so well that night.

“When England won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, West Ham didn’t have a player in the squad. I was really disappointed and jealous of all the other academy directors who were talking about their players playing in the final. So it was an honour for West Ham to have a player like Dec represent the club so well.”

Becoming an elite midfielder: “Declan Rice is the best player in the Premier League”

The first time Rice’s valuation came into question was following the goalless draw against Aston Villa in September 2019. Days earlier, it had been his mistake that had allowed Kosovo to score one of their three goals against England.

The midfielder was chastised as “sloppy” by Roy Keane for the error in the 5-3 win, while former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas warned the country was getting “far too excited” about his potential.

Rice responded to the criticism with a man-of-the-match performance against Aston Villa and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said that he was on the path to being worth as much as £90 million.

Since then his valuation has soared to the point West Ham manager David Moyes believes Rice is worth “far more” than £100 million. In fact, in Moyes’ recent interview with Sky Sports, he said: “There was a bargain to be got with Declan at £100 million, that bargain is now gone.”

Many West Ham fans will be in agreement with Moyes but, surprisingly, there are some who are still of the opinion Rice is an overrated talent — while Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness believes the 22-year-old would be better off as a defender. In September, ahead of West Ham’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United, Souness felt the midfielder was “a bit short” when it comes to delivering cute passes in the final third, and was unsure if Rice has the ability to develop into a top midfielder.

“It’s laughable,” said Rice when asked in November if he sees himself as a defender. “I think you can see in my game I’m never a centre-back. I feel like I’ve got too much ability to be playing at the back. I want to be progressive and athletic. I feel like I can do that in a midfield sense.

“I feel like now I’m not just a holding midfielder any more. I was always labelled as one that just sits in front of the back four, I really now want to see myself as a box-to-box player where I can get up and down and start creating things as well as getting back and helping the team as well. There is still a long way to go and I can improve so much.”

Rice has openly stated he would like to emulate his role models Yaya Toure, the ex-Manchester City, and former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira. Over the past 18 months, he has shown he is more than capable of developing into a box-to-box midfielder.

Those who regularly watch West Ham have become accustomed to seeing Rice make driving runs from midfield. The graphic above supports the argument that his ball-carrying ability has markedly improved. Over the past five seasons, Rice has improved his carries into the attacking third. His average of 2.6 this season is the highest he has managed in his career.

Even his progressive carries of 6.7 this term (carries that move the ball towards the opponent’s goal by at least five yards), or any carry into the penalty area, has improved hugely from last season.

The midfielder has scored three goals in 21 cup and league appearances this campaign. A case in point of the offensive side of Rice’s game improving is the goal he scored in the 2-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in September.

It was an outstanding solo goal and there should be no more doubt over whether Rice is good enough at carrying the ball forward.

“If he could score more goals a season that would be brilliant,” Carr says. “There will be moments in the game where he finds himself in advanced positions. If he can add goals to his game that will take him to another level.”

In the graphic above you can also see an increase in his overall touches per 90 from his first season to now. Once more it highlights how much his involvement and importance has increased. You can also see the number of touches in advanced areas have increased as his career has progressed.

“He’s become more confident,” says technical advisor Alan Irvine. “He’s starting to realise just how talented he is. I had a conversation with him at the end of last season. I told him he has a lot more to his game. He recognises that he’s a very good player. He’s become a really important player for England, which has also helped instil confidence in him.

“Declan will continue to develop and improve because of his attitude towards the game. He initially saw his role as a defensive midfield player but he has so much more to offer than that.

“He’s only using a small part of his ability if he’s limiting himself by only being a defensive midfield player. We had a situation where a lot of the players stayed back after training, with Dec being one of them. He’d practised free kicks and shooting. He’s very dedicated and wants to be the best.”

Premier League midfielders in 2021 - interceptions

His main attributes are his ability to read the game, his penchant for making interceptions, tackling and thriving in his role as the club’s on-field leader. Of all the midfielders in the league, the England international is in the top five for interceptions made in 2021.

Rice looks more at home in midfield than ever before. That’s precisely why a former England manager views him as a huge talent in the league.

“I think Declan Rice is the best player in the Premier League, he’s going to get better and better,” Glenn Hoddle said in an interview with Talksport.

Despite being a target for Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, the progress Rice has made to become one of the best players in his position has not gone unnoticed. He has thrived under Moyes and has continued to disprove the narrative that he is limited to slide tackles and playing safe passes.

To be on the verge of making 150 league appearances at the age of 22 is a huge milestone. It has not been an easy journey for Rice but the fact he has proved doubters wrong, overcoming rejection and setback, is arguably his biggest achievement of all.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

the exile 12:28 Fri Dec 31
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Funny how we don't hear from Vexed any more on the subject of Declan Rice.

Aberdeen Iron 9:33 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Many thanks for taking the time to do these posts Irish, much appreciated mate.

The Fonz 8:33 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Cheers Irish.

The Fonz 8:33 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Give him the number 6 shirt if he wants it.

He is going to be one of the best midfielders in the world at his peak. As unlikely as it is, I am just hoping we can get a few more years out of him and potentially win a cup!

Grumpster 7:49 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Other than he's quality, bloke is also a person to be very proud of c9r the way he carries himself and behaves, especially for his parents.

Turned into a fine young man and exceptional footballer.

Still makes me smile that I have non west ham supporting mates who dont overly rate him and for the wallies on here who took a long time to see he was brilliant.

Burnhammeronsea 7:40 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
What a great read. Thanks for that, Irish.

Thanks Irish 6:33 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Thanks Irish, keep these articles going and as you say nice to see the mention of Dennis Lepine

legrandefromage 3:32 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Declan was placed at number 59 in the Guardian best 100 footballers in the world in 2021 (https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2021/dec/21/the-100-best-male-footballers-in-the-world-2021) . What I found amazing was that there were quite a few comments ridiculing his inclusion at all. Possibly form those who had only seen him under utilised by Southgate in the England team.

By comparison, Jorginho was number 5. I know who I would rather have in my team. But the ranking was massively influenced by who you play for and appearing in the Champions League

chim chim cha boo 3:22 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice
Cheers Irish, like you say, a fantastic read.

All the best to you and your family in the new year.

Irish Hammer 3:07 Thu Dec 30
Re: Great Article - The Rise of Declan Rice

Lovely to see the mention of Dennis Lepine

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