The day has finally arrived, the one Irish football fans were hoping would never come. Declan Rice has declared for England. The West Ham midfielder had been debating over his international future for a number of months now, with his head having been turned by Gareth Southgate and promises of an England call up.
While there had been murmurings that the player was set to commit to Ireland, those hopes have now been dashed. Rice confirmed his intentions to make the switch in a statement realised on social media today:
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) February 13, 2019
This was quickly followed by a short but sweet responding statement statement from the FAI:
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) February 13, 2019
The Football Association of Ireland can confirm that Declan Rice (West Ham United) has opted to purse his international career with England.
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: "Declan rang me today and said he has decided to give it a go with England. Good luck to him."
Rice played three senior internaitonal games for Ireland in 2018 having previously represented Ireland at underage level.
David Meyler was also quick to wish his former international colleague all the best in his switch, feeling he spoke on behalf of all Irish football fans in doing so. That tweet was quickly deleted however, and Meyler was quick to correct his error.
It seems I don’t speak for all Irish fans 😂
— DM (@DavidMeyler) February 13, 2019
A number of Irish fans did come out to extend their respects to Rice and his decision, even if they would have preferred for the player to remain in green.
"Declan Rice" A pity he has declared for England, but his decision must be respected and it is a wake-up call for Irish soccer that they cannot keep relying on players born in UK to declare for Ireland.
— Mark (@markmgr) February 13, 2019
Declan Rice has made the right decision regardless what we think, better football, better chance of winning something, England might never win anything but Ireland definerly won't. He's English. Its that simple. He's a top class player and is going right to the top. #DeclanRice
— Mikie (@mikiebehan) February 13, 2019
Devastated with the news.I know it must have been a very tough decision for you , but you've shown some class with your statement .
Wish you all the best with your career .England gaining a future superstar .#COYBIG
— footballkitbox⚽️👕📦 (@footballkitbox) February 13, 2019
Not the outcome ud want as an Ireland supporter, but only Declan Rice and those closest to him will ever know how tough a decision this was or wasn't for him to make. Ultimately though it is his decision and supporters should respect that https://t.co/XrskmM01aX
— Morgan O'Callaghan (@MorgantheBriar) February 13, 2019
Some English fans were excited by the prospect of the West Ham academy product joining their international set-up, especially if it meant the end of Eric Dier in the England team.
— Si ⚒ (@JusterCR8) February 13, 2019
Yes @_DeclanRice confirming he wants to play for England his already the best in his position we have he should be an integral player
— Danny Nevill (@danny_nevill) February 13, 2019
@_DeclanRice Good choice son! I'm surprised but good choice. Look forward to seeing you playing soon
— SBG (@ScottyBoyGooner) February 13, 2019
Unsurprisingly, there were also some Ireland fans who did not take the news all that well:
— Darragh flynn (@darraghflynn030) February 13, 2019
Mick McCarthy: "I'm going to build the team around you"
Declan Rice: pic.twitter.com/ceBiUVPi8F
— Dean Van Nguyen (@deanvannguyen) February 13, 2019
What a ball bag!! Enjoy watching international football on TV like the rest of us
— Rory Lynch (@RoryLynch1) February 13, 2019
@_DeclanRice when the English media attacks you (which they will), just remember that you could have been our golden boy 🇮🇪
— Tom McGon (@T_McGon) February 13, 2019
— Paddy Loughlin (@Paddy_Loughlinn) February 13, 2019
Declan rice is a turncoat rat and that’s a fact
— Ricky Bobby (@Jihadi_Sean) February 13, 2019
Quite disgusting that you happily wore someone else's shirt for 3 games for a country you didnt want to represent. Your dishonesty has hampered a young Irish players progression, a player who dreams of wearing that green shirt.
— A Cos (@CosgraveAndrew) February 13, 2019
While the saga is finally over, one gets the feeling that we have not heard the end of this one yet.