Declan Rice to play international football for England

By Steve Neville

Declan Rice has announced his decision to play international football for England.

In a statement on Twitter, the West Ham star said he has phoned Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate to tell them he has submitted a written request to FIFA to transfer his international registration from Ireland to England.

The 20-year-old was born in London but qualified for Ireland via paternal grandparents and after playing at youth level went on to make three senior appearances, all in friendly matches.

However, after breaking into the West Ham first team and becoming a regular in Manuel Pellegrini's side this season, Rice has chosen to switch his allegiance to England.

In a lengthy statement, Rice said it had been "an extremely difficult decision" and "not on I ever expected to be making at this stage of my career".

"Like so many people around the world, I consider myself to be of mixed nationality," Rice said.

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. Particularly not for a young lad who never dreamed of being in this position.

"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."

"I fully accept that some Irish supporters will be disappointed by my decision, and that everyone has different opinions in regard to the rules around international representation. However, I hope that people can understand that I have made this decision with honesty, integrity and the full support of my family.

Rice added: "My pride at wearing the Irish shirt was 100% genuine. It was a great honour for myself and my family, and something I will always cherish. "

In a statement from the FAI, Mick McCarthy said: "Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England.

Good luck to him, it is his decision and his decision alone and I wish him well with his international career in the future.

"When I met Declan and his family, along with Robbie Keane last November, I told Declan that I would be delighted if he opted to stay with Ireland having won three senior caps and represented us so many times at underage level.

“That is not to be. I never got the chance to work with Declan so he is not my player and won’t be now that he has made up his mind."

- additional reporting by PA

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