As the fallout continues from Declan Rice's declaration that he will continue his career in international football with England, a former Ireland player has given what is sure to be an unpopular opinion to supporters of the Boys in Green.
Writing in his column for The Times, 88-cap Ireland international Tony Cascarino has said that Declan Rice made the correct decision in turning his back on the Irish team. Cascarino of course qualified for Ireland via the 'granny rule', qualifying via his Mayo-born adoptive grandfather.
In his column, he makes the case as to why he felt Rice simply had to choose England:
I say it through gritted teeth having played for Ireland but Declan Rice has made the right decision in choosing to represent England. We are talking about a player who could be a future England captain.
England has a big hold over players; it’s like signing for a big club. If you’ve got the option to play for England or to move to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, you do it.
You’re playing with a better team, largely, and have a far more realistic chance of reaching semi-finals, finals and winning trophies. There is so much more that England can offer to a player...
The bottom line is that Declan was in a difficult situation and had to make a choice, but you can not blame him for picking England over Ireland. I don’t think Mick ever thought he would win Declan over.
Realistically, Ireland are not going to win anything and Declan’s ambitions are to win things, or at the very least be in the mix to do that. England are far more likely to give him that chance.
The merits of the rule that allowed Rice to make the switch to England can certainly be debated, but you can understand why he went down that route, albeit begrudgingly.
For Cascarino, it sounds like he would have made the same choice had he been given the opportunity. He made his debut for Ireland in 1985, a time when he was playing with Gillingham in the Third Division. There was not much of a choice for him to make, as a call-up to the England squad was unlikely to be on the horizon anytime soon.