Kevin Kilbane hits out at Declan Rice's decision to play for England

Kilbane (left) and Rice in Ireland colours. Picture: Sportsfile
By Steve Neville

Former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane has questioned Declan Rice after the 20-year-old announced he was switching his international allegiance from Ireland to England.

Rice released a statement today saying he had submitted a written request to FIFA to transfer his international registration from Ireland to England.

In the statement, the West Ham star 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."

Former Ireland full-back Kilbane hit out on Twitter, asking: "If you’re a “proud Englishman” then why play for us in the first place?"

Rice qualified for Ireland via paternal grandparents and played at youth level before making three senior appearances, all in friendly matches.

After talks with the English FA last year, Rice told then Ireland boss O’Neill that he would like time to consider his options.

Like Rice, Kilbane was also born in England but to Irish parents. He always wanted to play for Ireland and went on to earn 110 caps.

Kilbane criticised Rice's decision to consider his options last year, saying: "I’d rather be ranked 150th in the world and never qualify again than have someone who has played, but needs time to THINK whether they should play for us again."

Kilbane's comments were echoed by current international James McClean, who replied saying: "Bang on lad.. Representing your country should be an honour and a proud moment."

In a statement today, Ireland boss Mick McCarthy said: "Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him."

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