Irish underage international Declan Rice earned rave reviews from West Ham fans for his half-hour appearance at Old Trafford, writes Stephen Barry.
Rice had only previously featured as a last-minute substitute in the Hammers’ final game last season, but Slaven Bilic threw him in at the deep end as his side trailed Manchester United 2-0 yesterday.
It ended 4-0, thanks to two late goals, but Rice was the silver lining on an otherwise cloud-filled afternoon.
Yesterday's silver lining... pic.twitter.com/504PNdPcGp— West Ham United (@WestHam) August 14, 2017
The 18-year-old Londoner qualifies to represent Ireland through the grandparent rule and won the FAI U17 International Player of the Year award last March. With the ability to play in defence or midfield, he has already caught the eye of Martin O’Neill, having been called in to senior training in May.
He has been compared to John Terry, too, even being tipped for the top by the Chelsea legend himself after they met last week.
John Terry on ex-Chelsea defender Declan Rice via Instagram: "Great catching up with Declan today. This boy will be a player." pic.twitter.com/dmuqM5CqAf— West Ham News (@whufc_news) August 11, 2017
But coming in to replace Mark Noble at the weekend, it was midfielders that fans were likening Rice to.
Naturally, some thought of another Irish legend.
He reminded other Irons fans of previous academy graduates.
Reminded me of Michael Carrick coming on as a yousgster - just stronger— Fred Goozee (@AlfredddGoozee) August 14, 2017
young Rice reminds me of Carrick so much 😍— 🖤💙🐍 #NotForEveryone (@AlmasIrshadi) August 13, 2017
Glimpse of carrick on declan rice. Bright future👍🏻— oten🇾🇪 (@rwaltonangelo) August 13, 2017
While a less fondly remembered, but still talented ex-Hammer came to mind, too.
Whoever people were reminded of, Rice was being widely tipped for big things.
You were class lad. Should've started imo. Better than Obiang and fernandes. 100% should be in starting 11 next week— Tom (@tomwhu13) August 13, 2017
@_DeclanRice congrats on the performance yesterday big man, future star, future captain.— 💸 (@whxfc) August 14, 2017
There was just one warning…
Swear to god we better not loan out Declan Rice— West Ham News (@whufc_news) August 13, 2017
He’s a keeper!