England midfielder Declan Rice has addressed the abuse he received online after he made the decision to play internationally with England, despite earning three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Earlier this year, the West Ham midfielder informed the FAI that he would be switching his international allegiance. He had qualified for Ireland through his grandparents and played three international friendlies as well as representing Ireland underage.
He subsequently went on to join Gareth Southgate's squad and played for England during their 4-0 victory over Bulgaria last week.
Speaking to ITV, Rice admitted some of the reaction to his choice was tough, particularly when it came to his family.
I've had a few bad bits. I have had people say they are going to come to my house, online. There are a few bits I could go into but I don't need to go into it. Threats to my family, threats to me. But if you click into their profile, it would just be a fake profile. You don't know whether it is true or not.
Thinking about it now, I was never scared about it. All these fans give you abuse over it, you look at it and laugh. You think 'all right. As if you will come and do that kind of thing'. It was tough. There has been some abuse. It was more for my mom and dad really, they were more worried about me than anyone else.
Speaking exclusively to ITV News, Declan Rice talks about the threats sent to him and his family on social media since his decision to play for England after appearing three times for Ireland.
— ITV News (@itvnews) September 9, 2019
The 20-year-old had to limit comments on his social media and temporary changed his accounts to private in the aftermath of the controversy.
Rice went on to address comments made by former England player and assistant coach Gary Neville. The pundit had suggested Rice should not be allowed play for England having played for Ireland.
"Obviously, what Gary Neville said as well, he can have that opinion if he wants and I can’t change that but now I am playing for England, you know I’m going to do everything I can to play the best I can for this country.”
Speaking to Balls.ie earlier this year, Gary Breen said lessons should be learnt from this saga and players should decare when they are 18.
I've had to learn this, but it's never as black and white as when Kevin (Kilbane) and I say this stuff. There are going to be guys who think of themselves just as much English as they do Irish. That's just how they think.
That's why I say you should declare at 18. Everyone is saying 'well you don't know at that age'. You do know at 18, of course you know. You know who you want to play for.
In my mind it shouldn't be a career choice, it should be one from the heart.