“He’s Irish, where else would he want to go?” – Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch… now he’s one of the Three Lions’ key players


Roy Keane has never been one to shy away from a confrontation, but there’s no doubt he got this argument very, very badly.

The Manchester United and Republic of Ireland legend was once so sure Declan Rice would stay with the Boys in Green that he said: “He’s Irish, it’s very simple.” These comments have not aged well.

Keane didn’t think Rice would decide to swap Ireland for England
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"He's Irish, where else would he want to go?" - Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch... now he's one of the Three Lions' key players
Rice has been a standout performer for England since swapping the international codes
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West Ham midfielder Rice may only be 23 but he has already become one of the most trusted midfielders for club and country.

Considered one of the most exciting rising stars in English football and linked with a move worth more than £100m to Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United, Rice has already amassed 150 domestic appearances for the Hammers. , the Kingston upon Thames-born star having also racked up 27 England caps.

It is perhaps easy to forget that he was an Ireland international just four years ago.

His surprise switch of allegiance was made even sweeter for England fans, as it came after a bold statement from Keane, who was once puzzled when a reporter asked if Rice would move from Ireland to England. England in 2018.

“Um, well, it’s going to be pretty tough if he’s Irish, and he’s Irish,” Keane replied matter-of-factly.

“He plays for Ireland.”


The reporter then asked: “He’s given every indication that Ireland is where he wants to play?”

To which Keane replied: “Yeah, because he’s Irish. Where else would he want to go?

“If you had to choose Ireland or England, it’s quite simple, isn’t it? Ireland.”

Whoops.

Fast forward a few months to February 2019, and Rice has officially announced that he wants to play for his native England.

"He's Irish, where else would he want to go?" - Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch... now he's one of the Three Lions' key players
Rice said he decided to switch to England after seeing them at the 2018 World Cup
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The midfielder has made three appearances for Ireland in friendlies, his last game being a man of the match performance against the United States at the Aviva Stadium in June 2018.

Rice met with then-Irish boss Mick McCarthy and the uncertainty over his international future dragged on for months.

However, he previously revealed he made his decision after cheering on Gareth Southgate’s side as they reached the World Cup semi-finals in the same year.

Of course, he will later be part of the team that went to the final at Euro 2020… and we know the rest.

"He's Irish, where else would he want to go?" - Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch... now he's one of the Three Lions' key players
Rice started every game for England at Euro 2020
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“Honestly, the World Cup was buzzing…I was actually in Dubai,” Rice previously told reporters.

“There was a huge football fan zone with a huge dome and it was crazy. It was mental.

“I remember watching the game against Panama, the game against Tunisia, the game against Sweden. It was amazing.

“The song before the match, the national anthem. Just be part of it. I was a fan of this tournament. So, to be part of this tournament [Euro 2020] It’s incredible.

"He's Irish, where else would he want to go?" - Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch... now he's one of the Three Lions' key players
The 23-year-old made his England debut against the Czech Republic in 2019
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After swapping his allegiance from Ireland to England, he made his debut against the Czech Republic in a 5-0 win in their opening European qualifier in March 2019.

“I probably won’t think about it for a few days and then it will hit me,” Rice told West Ham TV at the time.

“Making my debut in front of 80,000 fans and having my family here; my girlfriend, my brothers, it’s special and getting the win too, I can’t really put it into words, but it’s a special night.

“You can’t describe it. I just couldn’t believe it. I was just bursting with pride. It’s everything you wanted to work for when you were a kid and it came true. The call is one of the best feelings you can have.

"He's Irish, where else would he want to go?" - Roy Keane was so sure Declan Rice would snub the England switch... now he's one of the Three Lions' key players
Rice has become a mainstay of the English side under Southgate
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Scoring in the UEFA Nations League in a 4-0 win over Iceland in November 2020, he followed that up with another goal in last year’s 4-0 win over Hungry in a qualifying match for the World Cup.

Since his debut, Rice has become a midfield mainstay and is targeting a place in Southgate’s squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year.

“You hear a lot about his quality of managing men and how he is with players, and I have to say he’s been the best shot with me,” Rice said of the current boss. from England.

“He gives you the confidence to go out and play, and he wants you to express yourself.”

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