Declan Rice will decide future ‘soon’

Declan Rice says he will be make a decision “soon” on where his international future lies, after securing his club future at West Ham.

Rice, who has been a star performer for the Hammers in midfield this season, signed a contract after Christmas keeping him at the London Stadium until 2024. Rice had previously rejected a contract offer from the club and was free to leave at the end of next season.

With his future club plans no longer an issue, Rice says he is getting ready to decide where his international future lies. Rice qualifies for Ireland through his Irish grandparents.

“With regard to my international future, myself, my dad and my brother (Connor) have talked with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy and I’ve also spoken to (England boss) Gareth Southgate,” Rice told the Evening Standard. “They’ve both said that whenever I’m ready, it’s up to me to make a decision. There was so much going on earlier in the season but now most of that has been sorted, so I will make a decision soon.”

Rice, who has represented Ireland at every level from U16 upwards, has played three times for Ireland but in non-competitive games, which means he can still switch allegiance. The former Chelsea trainee has opted to make himself unavailable for international selection since last August, as he mulls over an offer to switch allegiance to England.

The London-born star says the furore surrounding his international plans did not affect his Hammers’ displays.

I’ve always been good at handling stuff mentally. I knew the new contract would happen. It was a long wait but I was aware that, if I started thinking about it too much, it would distract me. We were playing vital games and you just can’t let stuff like that distract you.

Rice also revealed John Terry was an inspiration to him when he was released by Chelsea as a 14-year-old, and they remain in contact.

“John was helpful when I was at Chelsea. We would go over to the first-team building and, because I was quite a lively character, I got on well with him. Then, after I had left, we bumped into each other in Kingston and he didn’t know I’d been released. That night I had a message from him saying he wanted to speak to me.

“A couple of days later he called and I was on the phone for half an hour and he was really positive. He said, ‘Do everything you can to be the best, never stop’.

“To have that call from him, an idol of mine, was just special and we still see each other now. We meet up for breakfast now and then, go for a coffee. The advice he gives me is invaluable.”

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