Breen: Ultimately, it’s proved he’s not Irish. I’ve always said that from the start of this saga

Gary Breen (left) and Declan Rice

Kevin Kilbane believes both Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy should not have pursued Declan Rice once he stalled his Ireland career last August.

Preston-born Kilbane, who earned 110 caps for Ireland, was outspoken at the time of Rice’s wavering, urging the FAI to “cut the cord” on a player unable to remain committed to the cause.

“Declan said ‘he was a proud Englishman’,” noted Virgin Sports pundit Kilbane of yesterday’s statement from Rice, “then why did he play for Ireland from U16 to senior level? Neither Martin or Mick needed to go see Declan, in my view. A phonecall would have done it.

“The writing was on the wall from the point he turned down the call. Personally, I don’t think he deserved another call-up after that. 

"My only disappointment is that there has been such a delay in him making his decision public. Let’s concentrate on the players who want to play for Ireland.”

Kilbane’s former Ireland teammate Andy Reid also doesn’t want to dwell on Rice’s dawdling. 

“We should move on and forget about him,” said the current Ireland U18 coach.

Mark Kinsella had a direct eye on Rice’s Ireland career as assistant to former U21 manager Noel King. 

The Londoner played five Euro qualifiers between September 2017 and March 2018.

“It is disappointing that we can let a lad go through the whole youth set-up, play three times for the seniors, and lose him,” Kinsella told RTÉ radio.

Gareth Southgate put a better case towards him playing for England. If he was injury free, he’d be a mainstay of Irish football for the next 10 years.

“He came into our U21 campaign early on and you could see the stature of the kid. He was well above his age the way he played and it was only matter of time before he got the call-up to the seniors.

“It’s over now for Mick McCarthy. He’s done his little bit and it didn’t work out. We still have a squad that is well capable of qualifying for the next championships.”

Gary Breen feels ‘hoodwinked’ over Rice’s decision

“In terms of his ability and what he could potentially bring to our team, of course it is, in isolation, a massive loss,” Breen told Newstalk’s Off the Ball.

“But ultimately, it’s proved he’s not Irish. I’ve always said that from the start of this saga.”

Breen has called on Fifa to overhaul the rules to avoid such situations dragging on. 

“The final decision should be made when you sign your professional contract at 18. It makes a mockery of the fact that we’ve allowed him to play in all our underage teams.

“I feel hoodwinked because I bought into everything he said. I listened to how eloquent he was and how much he made me believe it meant to play for Ireland.

“Now he’s saying different things. He didn’t seem to be a ‘proud Englishman’ when singing the Irish national anthem.”

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