Declan Rice has confirmed his intention to swap his international allegiance from Ireland to England in a big blow to Mick McCarthy as he heads into the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
Rice represented Ireland three times, but all of his appearances were in friendlies, which allowed him the opportunity to declare for the nation of his birth since FIFA regulations state that you must play in a competitive fixture to be tied to a country.
In a statement released this afternoon, the West Ham star has confirmed that he wishes to play for Gareth Southgate’s England team, in what is a huge setback for McCarthy, who returned for his second spell as Ireland manager after the departure of Martin O’Neill in November.
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: “Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him.”
In his statement, Declan Rice said that his pride while wearing the Irish jersey was ‘100% genuine’.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision and in all honesty, one that I never expected to be making at this stage of my career,” Rice said.
“Like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality. 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.
“I have equal respect and love for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.
“Ultimately, it is a personal decision I made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.
“I fully accept that some Irish supporters will be disappointed by my decision. However, I hope that people can understand that I made this decision with honesty, integrity and with the full support of my family.
“My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was always 100% genuine. It was a great honour for myself and my family and something that I will always cherish.
“I would also like to make it clear that, in requesting to transfer my national team representation, I am not taking for granted my call-up to the England squad or making any assumptions about my future international career. However, out of respect for the Republic of Ireland, I felt it was right to announce this decision now and put an end to the speculation.”