Declan Rice is quickly establishing himself as a key figure in David Moyes' West Ham. The 18-year-old is an assured and intelligent defender, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at Under 16, 17, 19 and Under 21 level. He gave a man-of-the-match performance against Spurs during the week and was very impressive during West Ham's FA Cup tie today.
Rice is still only 18, but looks set to enjoy a prolonged career in the Premier League. However, when speaking to the Evening Standard recently, Rice revealed he was crestfallen after being released by his first club as a youngster: "I was released by Chelsea at 14 years old."
I had to change house, change school, so it was a massive decision - and it's paid off.
When Chelsea let me go it was really deflating. For me, as a youngster, it's all I ever knew - living 10 minutes from the training ground, going to loads of the games.
It's one of those where you've just got to pick yourself up and go again.
Rice may have been down about the departure, but was relieved to learn that after a single trial two clubs wanted him.
On the Wednesday I was training with Fulham, five minutes from my house, and then on the Thursday I was training with West Ham.
After one session at both clubs they both wanted me. There was interest from other clubs as well but I made the switch to West Ham.
Rice is one of a growing number of promising Irish youngsters who will hopefully get some game-time this year. Although born in London, he is eligible to play for Ireland thanks to his Cork grandparents.
The defender is already making a name for himself amongst the Irish press and a truly exciting prospect for the future of Irish football.
You can read his comments in full here.