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Mick McCarthy: Declan Rice switching to England went down like a lead balloon

Rice played in three friendlies for the Republic of Ireland in 2018 before deciding on England in 2019

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Former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy says Declan Rice's decision to choose England over Republic of Ireland went down like a lead balloon

Former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy says Declan Rice's decision to choose England went down like a lead balloon.

West Ham midfielder Rice, whose grandparents are Irish, played in three friendlies for the Republic of Ireland in 2018 before deciding to pledge his international future with England in February 2019.

He now has seven caps for England, and McCarthy, who stood down from his post as Ireland manager in April, reveals the circumstances behind the decision, including a call back to the 21-year-old to apologise for his "curt" initial reaction.

Asked by Gary Neville how the decision went down, McCarthy said: "How it went down? Well, it went down like a lead balloon! He played three games, I think he scored [in the U21s] and I think he kissed the jersey.

"But players have a choice now. There's another discussion, if you've played once in a friendly game at full international level, should that be you down as an Irish player, an English player, a Scottish player, or whatever it may be? I think it should, once you've played in the national team.

Declan Rice has not played for Ireland since featuring against the USA last June
Image: Rice played three times in friendlies for the Republic of Ireland senior team

"But if you've got a choice, which he had, and he played in the West Ham team and started flying.

"I went to see him and his dad, and I have to be honest, I didn't say this publicly at the time, but I didn't think he would come with us, I think he was erring on the side of playing with England.

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"I was pretty curt with him at the time, and I had to call him back and say: 'Listen, I'm sorry, I wish you well, I hope you have a good career with England and with West Ham,' because it's his choice.

"He never played for me, it's just I was so disappointed that we were losing such a good player!"

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